The New York City Board of Elections unveiled a new voter kiosk it said would let it get unofficial results out faster on election nights, addressing what has been a long-standing criticism of its performance.
A prototype uses the hull of the old lever voting machine but replaces the levers with a touch screen and printer, a camera and a USB port.
The USB port would allow election results to be uploaded on site in minutes. That’s different from the current system, where unofficial results have to be taken to police precincts to be entered into the system and then released to the public — a time-consuming process in past elections.
“We view this as a real milestone,” said Commissioner Frederic Umane, adding that the prototype was created in-house by some employees of the elections board.
Four state senators called earlier in the week for the city to stave off potential disaster by pulling out the old lever voting machines for the 2013 local contests.
“There’s enough discomfort and distrust of the system that people are alarmed,” Sen. Martin Golden (R-Flatbush) said, pointing to a Daily News report on the recent unearthing of more than 400 uncounted ballots from the 2012 general election.
Republican Andrew Lanza and Democrat Diane Savino, both of Staten Island, and Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, joined Golden in the push for the lever machines.
“These new-fangled voting machines are a disaster,” Felder said. “Seniors can’t see the ballot text; voters are confused about how to fill out the ballot; and Election Day in New York City has become synonymous with chaos and dysfunction.”
Prior to Wednesday’s unveiling, the senators were skeptical that it would change their perception of the board of elections as an inept body.
John Naudus, director of the electronic voting systems department, said the board was looking to create about 2,500 kiosks, at a cost of about $15 million to $20 million, and was looking to the City Council for the funds. The City Council Committee on Governmental Operations is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on budget issues on Thursday.
Naudus said that if the funds came through, the board of elections would be looking to do a pilot run in early 2014 and hopefully have the kiosks in all polling places for that November’s general election.
He said the kiosks would also be able to help voters find their correct polling places when they entered their addresses, and would serve as a check-in point for poll workers, allowing the board to make sure its employee resources were being used in the most efficient manner.