Poll site in Manhattan Beach on September 13

Fidler went on the attack yesterday, skewering Board of Elections staffers during a hearing to review their performance for the September 13 race. We heard about a lot of confusion from readers at poll sites, especially in Manhattan Beach where registration books went missing for several hours, before showing up around the same time that inspectors did. We also got a number of calls and e-mails from people concerned because they cast two votes – the target of Fidler’s attack. According to City Hall News:

“The process used in the Ninth Congressional District was an unmitigated disaster,” Fidler said. “It was the least democratic process I’ve ever witnessed.” Fidler said that on Election Day, Brooklyn voters in the congressional district had to cast two separate ballots, in two separate rooms, with two separate groups of poll works. One ballot was for the Congressional special election between Bob Turner and David Weprin, and the other ballot was for the primary election in Brooklyn Civil Court races. Fidler said many voters were unaware that they had to vote twice. And not only was the process twice as expensive as it could have been, but Fidler contends it led to a “monumental” under-vote in Brooklyn Civil Court races. Responding to Fidler’s critique that the Board was “stuck on stupid,” BOE general counsel Steve Richman says the process was the only one the city’s electronic voting equipment could handle.

What do you think? Did you have any problems voting on September 13? Did the two ballots confuse you?

[via The Brooklyn Politics]

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  • nolastname

    I cast my vote on Avenue X and East 18/19 Street. No problem and the poll workers were available for questions.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Elections for judgeships are a waste of resources away. How many people know anything meaningful about the candidates? They could run candidates whose addresses are in Greenwood Cemetery and we wouldn’t know the difference.

    • Lew from Brooklyn

      Regardless Lisanne, so long as there are elections the process needs to be fair and transparent. And should not result in an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers that was likely in excess of $1 million. If in fact, state law does not permit the use of a single ballot and a single scanner, then the law MUST be changed. Was it Shakespeare who wrote “the law is an ass”? Sometimes, indeed it is.

      Lew from Brooklyn

      PS And, for the record, while I can’t say the same about the Congressional race, my side actually won handily in the civil court race, so this isn’t sour grapes.

    • Lew from Brooklyn

      Regardless Lisanne, so long as there are elections the process needs to be fair and transparent. And should not result in an unnecessary cost to the taxpayers that was likely in excess of $1 million. If in fact, state law does not permit the use of a single ballot and a single scanner, then the law MUST be changed. Was it Shakespeare who wrote “the law is an ass”? Sometimes, indeed it is.

      Lew from Brooklyn

      PS And, for the record, while I can’t say the same about the Congressional race, my side actually won handily in the civil court race, so this isn’t sour grapes.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

        But we would need to ascertain whether people did not vote in large numbers for the civil court nomination because their impression was that they were not comfortable voting in a race where they know absolutely nothing about a candidate.

        The Board Of Elections used to send out booklets which gave the candidates an opportunity to give the voters an idea of why they were running and what they intended to do when elected. I believe this was done with the help of groups like the League Of Women Voters. If it could be revived it would be extremely helpful to voters.

        I cannot see how their technical explanation could be valid. And if indeed this is codified in law it has created a wet of problems which make its continuance counter to the purpose of changing the system. The new system was supposed to create a more efficient means of handling the voting process. I agree that it does not achieve that end.

        • Lew from Brooklyn

          It is the Campaign Finance Board that sends out these brochures for city elections only. Only city elections are publicly funded.
          However, there is always what political people call “fall-off” in the vote for top offices and those lower on the ballot. I am sure that there were in fact many who knowingly passed on the primary vote for judge because they did not feel that they knew enough about the choices. However, I am willing to bet big money that the fall-off this year was double what it ordinarily is due to the fact that people did not even know they needed to sign in a second time for a different ballot.
          Not voting is a choice that can be legitmately made. Not voting because you did not know you had the right to vote is a different thing and is unacceptable in my view.
          Lew from Brooklyn

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            Judicial posts are state offices so that kills that idea, unless another group, government or otherwise, wishes to undertake publishing and distributing a booklet of wider scope.

            I have to wonder what recruitment strategy is used by the Board of Election to obtain poll workers. I understand that they are often short of site workers. The result is that they can’t make it too difficult for those who do apply to get the position. My own observation, obtained some years back from having worked the polls , is that the seriousness of the position is not understood by many, and as a result they are often ill-prepared and unsure of what they are supposed to be doing. The Board of Elections will send mailings to workers informing them of “special conditions”, (such as the two separate ballots used in the September 13th election in this CD) but it appears that some workers either did not remember what they read, or merely failed to consistently offer the two ballots. It is their responsibility to do this, the voter should not have to ask. 

            I would be curious to see the historical data as to the percentage of voters that cast votes for positions that do not receive much attention. In the cases where elections were held which had no positions generally familiar to the voter, both in terms of the office and the candidates ( and this too of course is a supposition) the turnout is generally lower. But by what percentage? 
            Information leads to a better democratic process. Voters should have an idea before they vote of what they are voting for, and hopefully why they are casting their specific vote.

          • Lew from Brooklyn

            When I get the official results by election district for this year, I will get you the fall off and the traditional fall off numbers. My pleasure.
            Lew from Brooklyn

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            Thanks Lew.

    • Georgia

       You hit the nail on the head Lisanne I liked that.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

        Once I actually had the privilege of voting for civil court candidate I knew casually. I was impressed with her intelligence and so she got my vote. Unfortunately she lost the primary

        • Anonymous

          Good things happen to Bad People……. and Bad things  happen to Good people…

          It’s how the world works.   :(

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            These civil court primaries are really hard to figure out. I’d imagine some people go “eenie-meanie-meinie-Moe”. And end up voting for Curly.

          • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

            I’d say voting for Curly would be an ability-neutral vote  for today’s govt!

  • BrooklynBus

    Lew is correct I voted in Manhattan Beach and the process was an absolute disgrace. They didn’t have the books so my neighbor and I had to complete a paper ballot. Worse yet, it wasn’t secured in a locked box. It was merely placed on a desk in the corner where it easily could have been lost. Then they told me that there was the primary election in the other side of the room for civil court judge. I wasn’t about to spend more time on another line.

    Also, when I went to the counter to complete the paper vote, someone left literature there for David Weprin, a direct violation of campaigning too close to the poll site.

    Even worse, it took about ten minutes to find the polling place at PS 195. It is always in the playroom or elsewhere on the ground floor. This time there was only one sign that pointed to the elevator as the polling place. (No sign that said to take it to the second floor.) I figured it was a mistake and walked to the other end of the floor to ask the guard. He told us we had to take the elevator to the second floor but made us exit the building and walk in the street because school was in session.

  • MarineParker

    I was told to ‘circle’ my choice. I asked, ‘don’t I have to fill in the oval?’. I received a shrug. I voted at PS 222. Quentin Road and E. 34 Street.

  • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

    I voted in Reynolds (Bay Acadamy) and had no problem. So, one polling place had a problem and he calls this “a disaster”? (Sounds like Hurricane Irene predictions again!).  One time in the past in Reynolds I had to fill out a write in ballot for some reason. Big deal.

     I’m sorry, but I have to be the one to wonder whether Fidler would have raised an iota of a mouth had the Democratic party guy won. Isn’t it a coincidence that he’s so vociferous the same time the Republican candidate won?  How many times in the past did such election site “disasters” happen, but nary a word was spoken because the result was “correct”?

    • Lew from Brooklyn

      Bruce,
      You really ought to read what I said and wrote before you flame out.

      My complaint related to all 38 polling places in the 9th Congresional District in Brooklyn…not just one. Also all of the polling places inthe 54th Assembly District where they also had a special election.

      My complaint related to the conduct of the Civil Court Primary for the Democrats…which my candidate won.

      My complaint was that the nonsensical manner of doubling the personnel and equipment in the computer age cost literally twice as much to the taxpayers. I am one of those too, by the way.

      I hope that you are no longer left in wonderment.

      Lew from Brooklyn