Going Backward on Election Day

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On Tuesday, voters across the state will go to the polls to elect a new governor and state attorney general and new Congress members and state legislators. When they do, they will cast their votes on paper ballots.

That’s right. As the few voters who showed up on Primary Day know, the new voting system in 2010 uses a paper ballot. Once the ballot is marked at a station that offers minimal privacy, the voter takes the ballot to a scanning machine.

The voter is instructed to fill in the oval under a candidate’s name — except in New York City, where the Board of Elections has mistakenly printed a sample ballot telling voters to fill in the oval above the candidate’s name. If voters put an X in the oval or do not black it out properly, their vote will not count.

On Primary Day, poll workers helped voters feed their ballots into scanners. That raised privacy concerns. Couldn’t the state have come up with a touch-screen, computerized system?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the BOE’s performance in the primary “a royal screw-up.” The BOE then spent $90,000 to take a telephone survey of 700 voters that proved you liked the new system despite published reports to the contrary.

BOE Executive Director George Gonzalez was fired after reports that he redesigned the ballot in a special election in the 28th Council District in southeast Queens to favor Nicole Paultre-Bell in her race against Ruben Wills. The New York Post reported that the board’s commissioners are “livid” at the change that may cause some voters to think Wills is running as a Republican.

Watch Your Back

The film student who allegedly stabbed a Jamaica cab driver because he was Muslim is back on the streets. His family came up with the $500,000 bond and doctors at the psych ward at Bellevue Hospital where he stayed for a month said he was fit to go.

The system is nuts.

Prosecutors say Michael Enright was drinking before he got into a cab driven by Ahmad H. Sharif. He then shouted, “Assalaumu Alaikum,” Arabic for “Peace be with you,” before allegedly stabbing the driver in the back, they said. Enright is either mentally ill or so filled with hate for Muslims that he cannot control his rage.

Updated 6:27 pm, October 10, 2011
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