After pleading with the state for permission to deploy its lever voting machines for the primary and possible runoff and getting it, the city Board of Elections on Tuesday officially voted to do so — but not before debating whether it was a smart move in the first place. Bronx Democratic Commissioner Naomi Barrera said she agrees with lever machine opponents, but said the state Legislature has tied the city’s hands by not moving the primary back to June. Under the current calendar, “I don’t think we have any other choice but to go back in time to use to lever machines,” she said. Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause/NY, spoke out against what she called a regression to the 19th century. “On behalf of the voters of New York City, the rush to the lever machines is ill-conceived [and] unnecessary,” she said.
After a debate about the accuracy, testing and cost of using lever machines, the board voted unanimously to roll them out for the Sept. 10 primary and, if needed, a runoff three weeks later. The Board pushed for a brief return to lever voting out of fear that it couldn’t handle a fast primary/runoff turnaround with its newer electronic ballot scanners. Voters will return to using the optical-scan machines for November’s general election.
Board Counsel Steven Richman called the return to the old machines “a temporary, short-term accommodation. This Board remains convinced that the permanent solution is to change the election calendar to provide this board — with each election — a 70-day window between elections,” he said.