The process of voting has been around as long as democracy itself, and yet, we just can't seem to figure out how to do it effectively. Google is on the cusp of releasing a pair of glasses that employs bone conduction to transmit sound, but ahead of Tuesday's election, the city is lugging out voting machines forged in the 1960s, eschewing the new $95 million electronic system in favor of the aging relics.
After widespread reports of long lines and general mayhem following the debut of the new system last year, the Board of Elections has opted go back in time and dust off the creaky, 800-pound lever machines, to the irritation of candidates and the current mayor alike. But BOE executive director Michael Ryan told the Times there wasn't any other way.
“I think that there are naysayers in every walk of life, and some people just like to harp on the darker side of life,” he told the paper. “We’re a lot more optimistic here about this election coming off, and the election coming off successfully.”
Our calls to the BOE's communications department were unanswered, though an employee named "Mike" did tell us—via the organization's chat line—that the issue wasn't a matter of "fixing the electronic scanners," but the tight time frame between primary and the run-off.
"The issue was whether there would be enough time in order to set up, test and program the machines in time for the run off," he wrote, adding that the board does intend to use the scanners in the primary election.
Will the new scanners ever be used in a primary? "That's an issue that will be addressed after this election cycle," Mike said.
Among the naysayers deriding the BOE's decision is Michael Bloomberg, adding the board's incompetence to the long list of items that he finds repugnant about this election.
“Inexplicable delays in reporting election results, misplaced and sometimes dramatically misreported returns, failures to open polling places on time or keep them operating efficiently—the sad litany of past Board of Elections bungles is a long one,” the mayor said during this morning's weekly radio address.
The decision to bring back the levers, however, should not come as a surprise—it was voted on by the State Legislature back in June.
Still, one poll worker told us last month that he's gearing up for a headache come 6 a.m. tomorrow—despite their battle ship-like exterior, the lever machines are fragile creatures known to malfunction 30 percent of the time. He also said the instructor gave would-be poll workers the answers to test questions during training sessions, so don't expect much by way of help if the lever snaps off in your hand.
"Last year was a disaster, but this will be even worse," the worker ominously prophesied.