Nov. 7, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, along with several area politicians, have called for a series of reforms over the city’s election process after voters in the borough, including in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, faced an onslaught of problems at the polls yesterday.
Adams said at a press conference outside the Brooklyn Borough of Elections office this morning that the reported issues in the borough, including delayed poll site openings, lines lasting upwards of two hours, and scanners breaking down are simply unacceptable.
The onslaught of issues, he said, point to an antiquated system in desperate need of change, nothing that, “this is not Afghanistan—this is America.”
“We’re still using antiquated methods,” he said. “Not only in the technology of the machines, but the technology of the minds of the people who are responsible of taking us to the next level.”
He lambasted Michael Ryan, executive director of the New York City Board of Elections, for his reasoning that high turnout, and even wet ballots from the rain, contributed to the issues voters were facing at the polls on Nov. 6.
“To get a response from the hierarchy of the BOE talking about wet ballots….high turnout…this is inexcusable,” Adams said. “It rains in New York.”
Adams said he counted roughly 50 locations where there were serious problems with voting, and is now calling for a multi-pronged plan to reforming the election process.
He demanded an immediate investigation at city and state levels to determine responsibility over yesterday’s failures. He also called for poll workers to receive increased training, in light of several cases where workers had to wait for technicians to do seemingly simple tasks.
Adams also insists that early voting be instituted in the state, and for research to be conducted on how to bring the current election system to the 21st century.
Several politicians, ranging from Mayor Bill de Blasio to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Comptroller Scott Stringer, blasted the city Board of Elections and also called for serious and immediate reforms.
“It’s clear the Board of Elections wasn’t prepared for one of the most important elections of our lifetimes,” tweeted de Blasio yesterday. “The BOE unquestionably needs reform, top to bottom.
Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, meanwhile, announced that he will introduce election reform legislation in Albany.
His legislation includes provisions to enable early voting, the digitization of voting records, and easily readable ballots that are only one page.
Lentol said New York is clearly poised to pass such reforms, given the Democratic majority over government after the elections.
“For too long the Assembly has been operating by itself on election reform, as the Senate failed to adopt important reform measures,” he said in a statement. “I am excited that now we can finally pass meaningful legislation to improve the system and expand access.”
Many voters took to social media yesterday to post about issues at the polls, including in north Brooklyn.
One voter tweeted at midday yesterday that only one of four machines was working at St. Cecilia Church in Greenpoint.
Another voter at a Greenpoint polling location just after 10 a.m. said the sheer amount of people voting had overheated or broken the scanning machine. A lead poll worker at the site, additionally, had apparently told those in line to give over their ballots, to be submitted via an Emergency Ballot Box.
Another wrote that people had started to turn away from another polling location on Leonard Street because of the wait time of over an hour.
“We need to fix this system,” they wrote.