Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for the director of the city’s independent Board of Elections to resign Tuesday amid reports of malfunctioning ballot scanning machines and hourslong lines at some polling stations.
“Voting should not be this difficult,” Johnson said in a tweet. “Bad weather and high turnout are no excuse when we have forecasts for both. Michael Ryan needs to resign and we need a full top to bottom review of what went wrong today.”
Speaking outside an elementary school in Brooklyn, Ryan told reporters that it seemed as if scanners were jamming more often than previously.
“The weather and people are having wet clothing and perhaps ballots getting wet is contributing to that,” he said.
Hard numbers on the extent of the problems in the city weren’t immediately available, but voters took to social media to post photos and videos of locations where scanners were having trouble reading ballots or had stopped working entirely, leading to long lines and severe bottlenecks.
As of midafternoon, New York’s attorney general said it had received 225 complaints about voting.
Nikki Euell, a New York advertising producer, said most machines at her Brooklyn location had broken down.
“People are grumpy and frustrated but positive in a weird way, making jokes and talking to one another. I think it’s because we all are in the ‘no one will stop our vote today’ mood,” she said after two hours in line waiting to vote. “I’m annoyed and frustrated that no one has announced what the issue is, or if it’ll be fixed soon.”
Voting problems are an Election Day ritual in New York City, dating back many years. The city has more than 1,200 polling locations. New York state does not allow early voting, meaning the Election Day crunch can be dramatic. During the 2016 presidential primaries, city elections officials were criticized over a botched attempt to remove inactive voters from the registration rolls.