Could chaos at the polls finally improve NY voting situation?

NEW YORK -- With jammed scanners and long lines, it was a nightmare at the polls as some voters struggled to make sure their vote counted during Tuesday's election. Today, elected officials gathering to call for voting reform outside the Board of Elections Brooklyn Headquarters.

"We're still using antiquated methods," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said holding up a VHS and cassette tape.

Adams visited more than a dozen polling locations on Tuesday. His office receiving complaint after complaint of voting scanners jammed by ballots. The shutdowns forced voters to wait in long lines for hours as they tried to cast their vote.

Early estimates suggested at least 49 polling locations had "major" problems, prompting Adams to compare the voting process in New York to third world countries.

"It doesn't matter if it's land mines in South Africa when they first started," Adams said. "It doesn't matter if it's outdated equipment in Afghanistan. No matter what it is, it comes down to the same result: the inability to have access to cast your ballot."

The problems were so bad during the election that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for New York City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan to resign. We reached out to the Board of Election multiple times for this story and were told we would be able to speak with Ryan, but then never heard back.

Adams stopped short of placing the blame solely on Ryan, calling it the easy way out. Instead the BP proposed a five point plan to fix the system.

It includes:

  • City and State hearings on exactly what went wrong
  • Improved training for poll workers to fix issues with scanners
  • Early Voting Implementation
  • Technological innovation for new voting methods
  • Stakeholder commitment to structural reform

Thanks to the election results, the plan may become a reality. Currently, 34 states have some form of early voting.

Democrats in the state Assembly have proposed voter reform for years, but the bills always failed to make it out of the Republican controlled Senate. Now, with a blue wave washing over the southern part of the state, Democrats have managed to flip several seats in the midterms.

"We have control of both houses of the legislature, we have control of the governor's mansion," Assembly Member Robert Carroll said. "If we don't get real voting reforms done, and done in the first month that we're back in session, we're no better than the people in Georgia or North Carolina."

With the current momentum, Adams says he's confident the reforms will be in place for the 2020 presidential election.

"The problem is within reach," he said. "We just need to extend our arm and make it happen."