NY ballot could baffle voters, expert says

October 22, 2010 3:40:46 PM PDT
On primary day there were so many problems, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it a royal screw-up.

There have been complaints about charter proposals not on the front, but on the back of the ballot.

Now there's a new wrinkle. Voting instructions clearly tell voters fill in an oval "above or next to" their favorite candidate.

But the ballot has that oval "below."

"So it's telling them the opposite of what they should be doing when they're filling out the ballot so the real concern is that this may cause confusion for some voters," Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice, said.

In response to this latest snafu, the Board of Elections met in an emergency session on Friday and did nothing.

A lawyer said the ballot complies with state and federal law. The justice department signed off on it, so that's that.

"I don't see a problem at all. This is the same ballot that was used in the September 2010 primary election. Over 400,000 people cast ballots. That specific issue was not brought to our attention," Board of Election Executive Director George Gonzalez said.

But election officials will now at least post more instructions in each privacy booth on how to fill in the ovals. They'll pass out palm cards with more info.

They'll hope that come November 2nd, this election goes more smoothly than the primary.

"The alternative is for everyone to go home and conduct an election. Obviously, that's not going to happen, we'll conduct the election and do what we have to do," Board of Elections Commissioner Gregory Soumas said.

The old levered voting machines were replaced this year after more than four decades.