Problems with Bronx Voting Machines Cause Concern

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A broken voting machine is causing voters in Westchester Village to have difficulty casting primary ballots today at P.S. 12X – The Lewis and Clark School on Tratman Avenue.

“The machines weren’t working so I had to vote by affidavit,” said Milagros Torres, 51.

“One of the machines broke at 8:30,” the site’s coordinator confirmed. “We need a technician.”

Told that the issue would be resolved by this afternoon, many voters chose to come back to the site later in the day. But those unable to make the return trip are concerned that their paper ballot will not be recorded. (The Board of Elections insists that votes are counted regardless of whether they are recorded on machine or paper. In the 2009 general election, some 1700 affidavit voters were tallied in the Bronx.)

“I don’t have the luxury of coming back and forth,” said Milagros. “I worry that my vote won’t count.”

With no line to vote outside the polling place and only a handful of voters inside at 10:15 a.m., she added that the site seems quieter than usual.

“I was expecting a long line, but there’s not much of a turnout.”

Early in the day, a lever machine in University Heights had to be shut down after voters complained that there were working levers for only some of the candidates in several races.

Two other problem polling stations in the Bronx have been reported to NYPIRG’s voter polling hotline. Levers were briefly jammed at 74 Van Cortlandt Park South. A caller reported being told the station was not yet open at 8 am and dozens of people waiting to vote outside 1880 Valentine Avenue. Voters were told the polling station was not yet open because the site’s coordinator had yet to show up.

Elsewhere, Kingsbridge polling site coordinator Sylvia Alexander said voters were “shocked to see the old machines,” but they hadn’t run into any mechanical problems or complaints as of early afternoon. The same was true of voters in Riverdale’s Hebrew Home, where senior citizens cast their votes from inside their compound’s walls.

Sitting on the steps outside Public School 81, Riverdale’s Fanesse France said she preferred using the old machines. “It makes you feel like you’re really casting your vote,” she said. “I don’t really trust those computers anyway.” The predominantly older crowds gathered around Kingsbridge’s polling stations moved through the short lines and voting booths with little impediment, aided by groups of volunteers ready to step in and help with any confusion or malfunction.

with reporting by Graham Corrigan and Julia Alsop