Mayor Bloomberg has made no secret of his disasatisfaction with the Board of Elections, calling it a modern day Tammany Hall rife with incompetence.
New York City switched to electronic voting machines for the most recent primary, and as expected, voters at numerous polling sites encountered problems with poorly trained staff and malfunctioning machines.
“We have virtually no information on what went wrong and at which polling places,” a City Hall source told me. “Because the BOE is incapable and refuses to accept the help of the city and 311.”
So for election day next week the city has announced that 311 will be collecting independent data and that citizens can also Tweet complaints to #NYCVOTES.
“The performance of the Board of Elections on Primary Day was unacceptable, and New Yorkers deserve better,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “All government agencies should be held
accountable for their performance, and that takes on added meaning when something as fundamental as the integrity of our democratic process is at stake.”
The full press release is below:
MAYOR BLOOMBERG URGES NEW YORK CITY VOTERS TO CALL 311 OR TWEET #NYCVOTES ON ELECTION DAY TO REPORT ANY PROBLEMS AT THE POLLS
Data Will Be Collected to Help the Board of Elections Identify and Address Problems
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced via Twitter that 311 will track Election Day complaints and urged New Yorkers to call 311 to report any issues they observe at their poll sites. For the last several election cycles, the Administration has made offers to the City’s Board of Elections to have 311 handle election day complaints, and to collect data on such complaints. The Board, which operates independently, has declined these offers. Nevertheless, 311 receives many election day calls, which are transferred to the Board of Elections. On Tuesday, for the first time, 311 will begin collecting basic information on the nature of these calls, before callers are transferred to the Board of Elections. 311 operators will record whether the reason for the call concerns difficulties with poll sites, voting machine, or poll site workers. All data collected will be shared with the Board of Elections to help it identify and address problems and improve overall service delivery. In addition, preliminary data will be released to the public on Election Day.
The Mayor (@nycmayorsoffice) via Twitter is also encouraging voters to tweet any problems they encounter at the polls – with the hashtag #nycvotes, providing the public with another avenue for making their voices heard. The Board of Elections and the public will be able to monitor the Tweets, as will the Mayor’s Office.
“The performance of the Board of Elections on Primary Day was unacceptable, and New Yorkers deserve better,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “All government agencies should be held accountable for their performance, and that takes on added meaning when something as fundament as the integrity of our democratic process is at stake.”
For the past several years, New Yorkers have called 311 to access basic information about voting, such as where to find their poll sites, and to reach the Board of Elections to report operational issues that require immediate attention, such as poll sites that have not opened on time. The Mayor’s Office has repeatedly urged the Board to adopt data-driven performance standards, and offered resources to facilitate data collection, but the Board has declined. The operational concerns surrounding the September 14th primary again demonstrated the need for greater data collection and transparency.
The 311 Customer Service Center was established in 2003 to give the public quick and easy access to all non-emergency City government information and services. Calls are answered by operators, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in an average of 30 seconds, with 90 percent of all calls answered in 30 seconds or less. Approximately 50,000 calls come in to 311 daily, and translation service is provided in nearly 180 languages