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Election Protection Calls on Board to Increase Preparedness in Advance of November 2

September 14, 2010




Stacie B. Royster

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law                                          

(202) 662-8317        
(202) 445-6101 (cell)




Under-trained poll workers, confusion over new technology, machine breakdowns mar Primary Day

(NEW YORK, NY) SEPTEMBER 14, 2010 – New York City experienced a wide range of problems with its rollout of new voting machines today, preventing many New Yorkers from participating in today’s primary elections.  The nonpartisan Election Protection coalition received reports of issues with the new machines throughout the day.  Reports included polling places opening late, machine breakdowns, poll workers who were unable to operate machines, lack of privacy, long lines, and general confusion.  Election Protection is eager to work with the Board of Elections of the City of New York to improve voter experience before November.

“Unfortunately the reports today in New York City were not surprising,” stated Eric Marshall, manager of legal mobilization at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Any time you introduce new technology there are always problems.  Today these problems were exacerbated by under-trained poll workers who, in some situations, did not respond appropriately.  It is our hope that the City will take today’s lessons and work transparently and diligently to ensure that New York City’s committed election workers are better prepared this November,” Marshall continued. 

Election Protection received reports from voters through the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline (1-866-687-8683), and mobile volunteer teams who monitored polling places in all five boroughs.  Election Protection’s leadership communicated with the Board of Elections throughout the day to help resolve problems quickly.   

Examples of problems reported in New York City today included the following:

  • Across the City, voters arrived at their polling places to find either missing poll books or non-functioning voting machines.  In some locations, the polling places were not even open.  For instance, a voter reported that, as of 8:30 a.m., the polling place was still not open at P.S. 34, at 131 Norman Avenue in Brooklyn;

  • Poll workers—and entire polling places—were unprepared for actual voting, including reports of an insufficient number of machines, supplies, and poll workers;

  • Voters found broken and jammed voting machines in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, as well as long lines in polling places where only one machine was functioning; and

  • Several voters complained about lack of privacy at the polls when using the new voting system.  Specifically, voters complained that the booths did not provide enough privacy, they were not given privacy sleeves for their ballots and poll workers either inserted their ballot into the scanner for them, or were close enough to see their entire ballot.

The 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) toll-free hotline is available in English and Spanish to any voters who need information, assistance or guidance in understanding their rights, and will be available to voters throughout the fall.  While open to the entire voting public, it targets historically disenfranchised communities, including African-American, Asian Pacific Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and other racially and ethnically diverse communities; seniors; young people; low-income voters; and individuals with disabilities.

Election Protection’s nationwide, nonpartisan voter protection program was the largest in the coalition’s history in 2008.  Over 10,000 legal volunteers fanned out across the nation to assist voters, poll workers and election officials in 25 states.  The 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline received over 240,000 calls from voters seeking assistance, and more than 283,000 people visited the www.866OurVote.org website in the six weeks leading up to Election Day.


For more information about Election Protection and the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866OurVote.org