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Thursday, September 16th, 2010

NYC Election Board’s “Royal Screw-Up”

NYC Election

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wasn’t happy with the way the city’s new electronic voting machines debuted (or didn’t) this Tuesday. We’ve been following the change-over to these new machines (and Mayor Bloomberg’s election reform plan) for some time. The mayor didn’t hold back his feelings when it came to mishaps on Election Day. Here’s a transcript via WNYC.

Today, unfortunately, we are hearing disturbing reports that some polling sites have been very disturbing.

We’ve been told of some polling sites that opened two to four hours late.

That is a royal screw-up – and it’s completely unacceptable.

It means some voters waited for hours – and other voters may not have a chance to cast their ballots at all.

We’ve also gotten reports of broken and missing scanners, emergency ballots, and poor customer service.

Other counties have also experienced problems, but I’m not sure any of them have been as severe as we’ve seen in our five boroughs.

Over the past five years, the City has provided the Board of Elections with more than $77 million to make the transition to the new machines – and that doesn’t include the $85 million in federal funds used to purchase the new machines.

But 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.

New Yorkers deserve better than this – and the time has come to fix it. And let me repeat that for our Spanish speaking audience:

Los neoyorquinos merecen mejor – y ha llegado la hora de arreglarlo.

We owe that to all of you – and to every voter.

No democracy is perfect, but the more people participate in civic life, the stronger that the democracy is.

And that’s why voting is so important – and that’s why the commitment we’re making today is so important – and I just want to thank all of you here and wish you all the best of luck. I wish our Board of Elections had performed as well as all of you guys are going to do.

For WNYC’s complete blog post about Mayor Bloomberg’s reaction, click here.

Photo of NYC on Election Day via Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times.

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Check-In on Election Day

The screen capture below shows that we really do have the power when we all stick together. Foursquare, the location-based social networking site, agreed this morning to give its users “I Voted” badges on this coming Election Day after an act.ly petition showed how broad the public support for this simple act of civic participation was.

Foursquare

Congrats to Foursquare, petition-starter Jordan Raynor, and act.ly creator Jim Gilliam for making a move on a truly noble cause. Now, if only we could petition the 50% of Americans who don’t vote.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Forecast: Cloudy With A Chance Of Low Turnout

Empty Polling Place Photo

In today’s New York Times John Harwood asks a question about tomorrow’s midterm primary elections, “Angry Voters, But How Many?”, which got our attention. He highlights the fact that not only was turnout for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 election underwhelming, but that it’s probably not going to get much better than that this time around.

In 2008, when Mr. Obama’s candidacy galvanized Democrats and intrigued the nation, nearly 4 in 10 Americans declined to vote. Even at peak interest, the American appetite for democratic rituals is hardly universal.

Without a presidential race to lead the ballot, the appetite is even weaker. The last time more than half of the eligible citizens voted in a midterm election was nearly three decades ago, in 1982, census figures show.

Students of modern political history point out that this is often a problem for Democrats. Their less-affluent constituency traditionally goes to the polls at lower rates.

“We usually do well when the turnout is low,” said John Morgan, a longtime Republican demographic specialist.

Comparing 2010 to one election with modest turnout in which his party captured both houses of Congress, Mr. Morgan observed, “This smells like 1946.”

Elections with low turnout can allow parties to tilt the outcome substantially through small shifts in the composition of those voting.

In the 1994 midterms, for example, overall turnout as a proportion of eligible citizens dropped slightly. But since Representative Newt Gingrich’s party was energized that year and President Bill Clinton’s was downcast, the result earned the moniker “Republican Revolution.”

“You can have a big-wave result,” Mr. Cook said, “without a big wave of voters.”

We’ll be monitoring tomorrow’s vote here. If you’re curious why we’re voting on Tuesday, the answer is here.

Photo of empty polling place via nonnormalizable on Flickr.

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Recent Comments

In France they last voted on a Sunday. France is despite the Bourbon legacy a largely Catholic country, yet they vote on Sunday...

Posted by Patrick on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

I think weekend voting would make the most sense, as people wouldn't have tu run home after work or wake up early to hit the polling stations beforehand.

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Sunday would be inconvenient for Christians. We should, 1. Move the voting day to Saturday. 2...

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