NYC Board of Elections Upgrades Reporting Process

The demonstration occurred more than two months after the board came under intense scrutiny following the hotly contested Democratic primary between U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat

By Alex Katz
|  Monday, Sep 10, 2012  |  Updated 4:55 PM EDT
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NYC Board of Elections Upgrades Reporting Process

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In advance of Thursday's primary election, the New York City Board of Elections demonstrated for the public its upgraded process for reporting unofficial election night returns.

 
The demonstration Monday occurred more than two months after the board came under intense scrutiny following the hotly contested Democratic primary between U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat.
 
The new process is aimed at increasing accuracy of the results rather than speed, said John Naudus, director of the board's electronic voting systems department. "Our concept for this was to make it as easy for the poll workers as possible," he said.
 
On election night, after the polls close at about 9 p.m., poll workers will remove the portable memory devices — which are similar to USB devices — from the scanning machines that contain the vote totals.
 
The workers will then put the devices into secure yellow pouches and give them to NYPD officers, who will bring them to a preassigned precinct. After every device is accounted for, the results are uploaded onto a computer, wirelessly transmitted to the board's general office and sent to The Associated Press for distribution to other news outlets.
 
Naudus said the first results Thursday will likely come in around 10 p.m.
 
Poll workers will still manually cut and tally paper results printed from the scanners. But they will not be relied upon as heavily as in past elections. Officials said they ultimately want to phase out this process, which has been criticized for being antiquated and prone to human error.
 
Advocates for more transparent elections say they're satisfied with the improvements.
 
"It's something we've been advocating for a while," said Alex Camarda, public policy director at Citizens Union. "We think the board put a lot of work into this and we hope it goes smoothly on Election Day."
 
Neal Rosenstein, an elections specialist at the New York Public Interest Research Group who has long been critical of the city's vote-counting process, said the board deserves credit for beginning to reform its system.
 
"The board has taken the right steps in ensuring the public has more confidence in our elections," Rosenstein said.
 
The board has also launched a new website and smartphone application that officials hope will keep voters notified and informed before future elections.

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