New York updates (3)

Why Doesn’t NYC Set Up Voting Sites the Night Before Election Day?

This morning, a few New York City polling places opened late because ballots and poll books were misdelivered. Some voters waited as election officials looked for and retrieved the correct materials. Others voted by affidavit ballot instead, and some left.

In New York City, poll workers are expected to be at their poll sites at 5 a.m. Election Day morning to set up. This gives them one hour before poll sites open.

But elsewhere, it’s fairly common to set up before Election Day morning, according to Tammy Patrick, an election expert with the Bipartisan Policy Center. “I was an election administrator for over a decade in Arizona and the majority of our sites were set up before Election Day,” Patrick said. Depending on the facility, they might set up the night before or over the weekend leading up to Election Day.

Setting up early would give poll workers an opportunity to identify misdelivered materials, missing signs, pen shortages, and absent poll workers, and address these issues before voters arrive.

New York City Executive Director Michael Ryan cited security as a reason to keep the voting material under lock and key before Election Day. “We don’t have control of the 1,205 poll sites so we need to secure the equipment before Election day, Wouldn’t it be a much worse scenario if you walked into an election site and you had the whole poll site set up before and we walk in to find all the voting machines stolen?”

Patrick said there are ways to maintain the security of at least some of the materials. “Equipment, ballots, rosters, and other relevant materials are secured with tamper evident seals and logs are verified that nothing has been tampered with,” said Patrick.

Additional reporting by Brigid Bergen, WNYC

Jenny Ye, WNYC

Provisional Ballots Help Ensure Voters’ Rights. Even Trump Used One.

There’s a potential lesson in Donald Trump’s 2004 voting experience: Even if poll workers don’t have your name on their list, you may still have an opportunity to vote. Trump did it, after all.

The Republican presidential nominee appears to have voted by provisional ballot in the 2004 general election, according to an “Access Hollywood” video with Billy Bush (not the one that featured him boasting about groping women).

The video shows Trump visiting at least two voting locations in New York City and being told his name wasn’t on the list of registered voters at either polling place. When that happens, voters in most states can record their vote via a provisional ballot that is counted after Election Day — assuming they are found to be eligible to vote. Provisional ballots and rejection rates are one of the ways that election experts try to measure how elections are run. Jurisdictions have differing guidelines about when provisional ballots should be used. Some, for example, offer them to voters who show up at the wrong polling place.

We don’t know what the specific issue was in Trump’s case in 2004. But voter data from New York State does indicate that Trump voted in that election. That means his vote, cast provisionally, was counted.

Derek Willis

New York AG to Election Board: Clarify Provisional Balloting Process

After receiving more than 1,000 complaints from voters during the state’s April presidential primary, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has called on the state Board of Elections to “issue clear guidance” regarding provisional balloting procedures (which the state calls “affidavit ballots”).

These ballots allow voters whose names do not appear on the rolls but believe they are registered to vote using a provisional ballot, and to have their ballot scrutinized by election officials later. In a letter sent to the board, Schneiderman said “many poll workers are not receiving consistent guidance about their legal obligations with respect to affidavit ballots.”

According to the letter, complaints rolled in from Albany, Clinton, Erie, Niagara, Ontario, Westchester, and Suffolk counties during the primaries from voters saying they were denied affidavit ballots even though they believed themselves to be registered. It also says that only New York City’s Board of Election Policies properly adhered to the state policy that voters always be given an affidavit ballot if they believed themselves to be registered.

Jessica Huseman

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There is no act more central to a democracy than voting. Electionland is a project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election.

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