The big debut of the new optical scanning voting machines, which cost the city over $70 million dollars, was a flop of Waterworldian proportions. Because of problems with the machines, many voters were turned away in the morning, and others who did vote wondered whether the scanners really registered their votes at all. Below, the top ten reported SNAFUs from yesterday's FUBAR primary, PLUS a funny bonus video about workers at one polling site trying to find their AWOL machines.
- "Problems at the West 97th Street polling site began early in the morning when officials were locked out of the building and couldn't process voters until nearly an hour after the scheduled 6 a.m. start time," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Only two scanners were sent to the site, and officials said they had expected many more at the typically busy location. By midmorning, both scanners at the West 97th Street polling site were broken."
- In Bed-Stuy, just before 9:30 a.m. the first voter was an election site inspector, who filled out the first ballot. But when he tried feeding the completed ballot into the scanner, it wouldn't fit because the paper was too large for the machine. "I'm disgusted," election board inspector Lucius Lindsey told the Journal.
- The Post's John Podhoretz had a similar experience, and his account of trying to vote in the Republican primary on the Upper West Side is a must-read. His story begins with a poll worker telling him, "This is a Democratic primary. I believe the Republican primary is in November." (To be fair, it WAS the Upper West Side. Republican voters should know to report to precincts on Staten Island.)
- One polling place in Queens didn't just have broken machines to worry about, they also had a broken pipe that was flooding voting rooms, according to WNYC.
- On the Upper East Side, voters complained that the print on the new paper ballot was too small, and voters said the process was confusing. "They didn’t tell me to fill anything in," one voter told WNYC. "It’s ridiculous. I have a Ph.D. And they said, 'Oh, you didn’t do it right.' "
- In Flushing, Alice Wong, a poll worker at Public School 20 pointed to the scanners that started malfunctioning after one hour of use and told City Room, "Sometimes it scans, sometimes it doesn’t."
- In Pelham, the machines were out of service about two and a half hours because some of the paper had some glue on the back, which caused the machines to malfunction.
- At a polling site on the Upper West Side, the line of people waiting to scan their ballots was about half an hour long, because one of two scanning machines went on the fritz. And the one machine that worked kept flashing "a worrisome error message" for every ballot scanned.
- Perhaps the biggest problem of all? In an interview with AP, a Board of Elections spokesperson believes "the reports of problems were at a typical level, no different from what was experienced with the lever machines." Funny, we don't seem to recall polling places in NYC opening hours late and turning voters away before this.
- And, last but not least, Chuck Schumer was reportedly furious about delays at a polling place in Park Slope, and yelled at befuddled workers, "I want to vote!" We can't wait to hear more about that at his next Sunday press conference.
Luckily, most of the electorate is comprised of apathetic rubes (or disenchanted independent voters!) who couldn't be bothered to participate in the democratic process; turnout was light yesterday, with an estimated 10 percent of registered voters casting ballots. It'll be fun to see how this all works during the general election! Below, a hilarious/dismaying video, via The Daily Politics, of a poll worker turning voters away because the voting machines... were missing.