This blog has already covered – in great detail – the frustrations many feel about New York state’s seeming inability to find a way to schedule and administer elections in a way that doesn’t do violence to common sense and, potentially, the state’s finances. An editorial in today’s Daily News suggests that this approach is not unique to Albany, but also exists in New York City as well. In particular, the Daily News complains that the City Board of Elections is treating its new voting machines like old technology in a way that unnecessarily complicates and delays the count.
For the uninitiated: When polls close [in NYC], workers at 1,358 sites press buttons that command 3,643 vote-counting scanners to print out paper tapes, resembling supermarket receipts, only longer. The workers then cut up the strips by contest and election district, organize the scraps into piles, add the election district numbers up by hand and write the totals on unofficial results sheets. They then give the tallies to police officers, who transport them to stationhouses, where the figures are typed into computers for dissemination by The Associated Press. Hours and hours pass before anyone has a clue who won and who lost any particular election.You thought shifting from mechanical voting machines to electronic gizmos would speed things up. Ha! You don’t know the Board of Elections.
There are, of course, very good reasons not simply to trust the removable flash memory in these new units, and many words and hard feelings were spent across the nation from 2004-2008 to ensure that most voting machines are capable of producing some kind of paper trail.