It turns out that the city’s Board of Elections, an institution known best as a patronage refuge for both major parties, was a bit concerned that its new voting machines might not be ready for Primary Day. With good reason–the machines didn’t work properly in a number of polling stations, leading to delays and confusion.
If this could be explained as the inevitable result of a new system–the introduction of electronic voting using optical scanners–the board might have been forgiven. But it appears that glitches were not the problem. The problem was incompetence and a lack of preparation and training. That calls for a full and thorough investigation. Heads should roll, because this is simply unacceptable.
Board officials have told the media that some poll workers simply weren’t prepared for the new system. That’s bad enough. In some cases, however, the lack of preparation had little to do with scanners and everything to do with utter stupidity. How else to describe instances where poll workers weren’t given keys to the new machines?
Fortunately, Primary Day didn’t exactly inspire a run on the polls. Turnout will be a good deal heavier on Election Day in November. So there will be no margin for error–the system simply will have to work.
Nobody at the moment has been held accountable for the fiasco on Primary Day. A proper investigation might explain how and why dutiful voters went to the polls only to be turned away because the Board of Elections wasn’t ready for them.
Americans preach the values of democracy and the importance of voting, but nobody will ever suggest that we practice what we preach. Getting voters to the polls is hard enough these days. Turning them away because of incompetence is nothing short of scandalous.