City Council qustions Board of Elections about Election Day chaos at the polls

NEW YORK — New Yorkers eager to cote dealt with long lines, broken scanners and hours-long waits at the polls on Election Day; now the City Council is pressing the Board of Elections to determine what went wrong.

The crux of the voting problems are no longer being blamed on weather and high voter turnout, but instead on scanner failures and an unprecedented two-page perforated ballot that became stuck in machines.

"I'm embarrassed as a New Yorker by what happened on Election Day," said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. "Excuse after excuse after excuse about vendors, about the size of ballots, about perforations."

The city council fired off questions Tuesday morning to BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan about what went wrong.

"I'm certain we could've done better," said Ryan. "There's no question about that."

Ryan said he will sit down with vendors to figure out what can be done moving forward. He said he'd like to have staff at poll sites to clear paper jams, rather than wait for technicians to come and fix the jam. The average wait time for a technician on Election Day was 52.2 minutes across all five boroughs.

"We have to change the way we approach scanner problems," said Ryan.

Ryan's answers were not satisfactory for council members, who now fear that New Yorkers will be reluctant to vote in future elections.

"You failed to test your machines for the two-page ballot," said council member Richie Torres. "You failed to train your employees."

Johnson is even calling for Ryan to step down.

"I think that he should resign," said Johnson. "I think he was a bit tone-deaf in not apologizing without being prompted to apologize."

"The process of voting has become so confusing, so cumbersome, so complicated that people refuse to vote out of frustration," said Torres.

Johnson said he's hopeful the state legislature will adopt early voting and no-excuse absentee voting policies in January as a means of alleviating congestion at the polls.

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