Despite Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's best efforts to hip voters to the term limits proposal on the back of the ballot, only about half of the voters who showed up at the polls Tuesday actually weighed in on the issue. "What proposals?" asked one bewildered Twitter user after the fact. "On the back you say? But I wasn't told. Are you sure?" How did I get here? These aren't my socks. You're not my son!
Poll workers were widely faulted for not telling voters to flip over the ballot, and the Daily News reports that nearly 43% fewer people in NYC successfully voted on Question 1 on the back of the ballot than voted for Governor on the front. At the same time, the article notes that in previous years, other ballot proposals have also been ignored by a wide swath of the electorate, and that was before there were reverse sides to ballots.
Still, The Citizens Union, a nonpartisan watchdog group, wants the NYC Board of Elections to start posting the sample ballots online before election day. "The boards of elections in twenty-six counties in New York State - representing almost half of all counties - posted sample ballots online for voters to familiarize themselves with the ballot and races prior to entering the polling place," says Citizens Union in a statement. "The City Board of Elections has previously and repeatedly refused to post such sample ballots online, arguing that doing so would increase the likelihood of fraud and that ballots for some election and assembly districts are not finalized until just before the election."
And Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York, agrees: "We thought the ballot was not adequately thought out. It was clear to us that the Board of Elections did not consult any usability experts." But who has money for fancy usability experts when the Board of Elections has to spend so much money on publicists and new chairs?