The tepid return of the electronic voting machine went pretty much as expected yesterday, characterized with some malfunctioning scanners, a few sad lines and the occasional terrifying SAT-related flashback. It wasn't the same kind of complete horror show voters experienced for the 2012 election, but there were a couple of rather unpleasant glitches, including some seriously busted machines in one Brooklyn Assembly District and mistranslated ballots in a few heavily Asian districts. But there were stickers!
Whatever kind of political coup these electronic machines are secretly plotting to take soon, it looks like they'll probably win. They are TESTY: in Brooklyn's 52nd Assembly District, a technical glitch knocked out 70 machines at 21 polling sites in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Prospect Heights.
"It was actually an error in technician programming," Valerie Vazquez, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections, told us. "A technician improperly set up the backup memory device [for all the scanners in the zone], and as soon as the scanners were turned on election day, error messages rendered the scanners inoperable." Vazquez reported that all the scanners in the district were up and running by 11 a.m., though it was still frustrating for early morning voters; voters in Astoria also reported problems with broken machines, and NYPIRG found that "19 of the 31 sites" they paid scattered visits to "had a malfunctioning scanner at one point."
And stubborn scanners weren't the only voting-related issues yesterday. A number of ballots at sites in Chinatown, Sunset Park and Woodside had incorrectly translated some of the ballot proposals for Asian voters, and voters at a polling site claim workers told them, "don't worry about the back, it's not that important,"—the back of the ballot, for those who didn't notice, was where the six ballot propositions had been listed. Vasquez says the BOE provided Asian voters with correctly-translated ballots listing the proposals, and BOE executive director Michael Ryan told the Daily News of the mistranslated ballots, "I can't speak to how they missed it and how it got through the proofing process, but it did."
Overall, though, yesterday's election seemed slightly less hellish than some of its predecessors. "Based on our 25 years of experience running helplines, the 2013 municipal elections were not as problem plagued for most New Yorkers as past elections," NYPIRG director Gene Russianoff told the Daily News yesterday. And Vasquez says that while the BOE hasn't gathered all the official voter data from yesterday's election, when asked if things went smoother for voters this time, "Anecdotally from being out in the field, I would say yes."
Still noteworthy: that damn tiny ballot print is still as bad as ever. Though, again, stickers.