City Council holds hearing on Election Day problems in NYC

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
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Political reporter Dave Evans has more on the city council's hearing on Election Day problems.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Council grilled the top official from the New York City Board of Elections Tuesday, calling the November 6th vote "an epic disaster."

There were long lines, jammed scanners and frustrated voters who were forced to wait two or three hours in line before voting.

In a council hearing, Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan blamed a new, complicated ballot.

"The perforated, two-page ballot presented a series of problems never experienced before by the Board or anywhere else in the country," said Ryan.

But Council Speaker Corey Johnson wasn't buying the new excuse. "I know the two-page ballot is new for us but it is not like sending a man to the moon. It's not that complicated," said Johnson.

On November 6, Ryan blamed turnout that was double what it was in 2014. He also blamed the rain, resulting in soggy ballots that jammed voter scanning machines.

But Tuesday Ryan back-tracked saying, ""In no way shape or form was that (blaming the rain) meant to be construed as being insensitive to the plight of voters throughout the city or a shrug of the shoulders, saying there's nothing that we can do."

Still, council members were furious with the Board of Elections.

"I continue to have no confidence in the ability of the Board of Elections," said City Council member Ritchie Torres.

There is a simple solution that might fix some of the long-running problems at the Board and that's early voting.

"We're trying to cram two, three, four million voters into 15 hours and one day," Susan Lerner from Common Cause said Tuesday. "If you spread those voters over a space of two weeks, two weekends, evening hours, then by definition you have a better election."

With Democrats taking over the State Senate in Albany, early voting will likely be a top priority. If the Senate votes next year, there could be early voting in New York for the next presidential election in 2020.


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