Rage Against the Machine: The Primary Day Voting Fiasco

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Philip Davi of Brightwaters, N.Y., signs the register to vote in the Republican gubernatorial primary at Newin-Bay Shore Ford on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010, in Bay Shore, N.Y. Inspectors working at the polling place are, left to right, Cate Loughran, Denise Flynn, Deanna Watts and Alma Colacrai. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

    New York’s new voting machines didn’t do too well in their debut on the New York political stage. If it were a Broadway play, this premier performance could be titled “Chaos."

    Some polling places opened up hours late. Poorly trained election workers struggled with malfunctioning machines. Voters waited for machines to be fixed and, in many cases, had to give up their chance to vote to get to work on time.

    Mayor Bloomberg was right on target when he described the situation as “a royal screwup.” A spokeswoman for the Board of Elections said every machine in 1,358 polling  places had been tested in advance. But the Board of Elections couldn’t explain the reason for the “screwup.”

    How to Vote This Year!

    [NY] How to Vote This Year!
    New voting machines may confuse many this year. Be prepared! ! Watch David Ushery and Board of Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco walk through the new procedure. Then watch The Debrief every Sunday at 12noon on WNBC-TV!

    The very structure of the board is suspect. There are 10 commissioners, five from each of the major political parties, appointed by the City Council.  This body, whose origins are about as partisan as you can get, is empowered to ensure that fair elections are held.

    Bloomberg says “there is a total absence of accountability for how the board performed on Election Day because the board is a remnant of the days when Tammany Hall ran New York," reported the New York Times.

    Voting Machine Problems in NY Primary

    [NY] Voting Machine Problems in NY Primary
    Voters were met with delays, thanks to various glitches. Tom Llamas reports.

    I talked to John Liu, the city comptroller. He said he was joining with the state comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, to investigate the problems with the voting machines.

    To empower the major parties or their bosses to supervise elections seems contrary to common sense. In ancient Greece, the philosopher Plato envisioned a political system where a special class of rulers would be trained without personal ties to anyone who might try to influence them. The basic idea: to keep the philosopher-rulers uncorrupted---with sole devotion to the general good.

    We’re a long way from that now. There’s got to be a way to empower the voters and keep the election  process here efficient and honest.

    Before the general election in November, the city Board of Elections needs to take steps to improve the situation. If there are major foul-ups and delays in November, the commissioners should resign -- or the Council should fire them.