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Elections officials say disabled voters will have access to electronic devices at each poll site this year so that they can submit paper ballots for the September primary, even though inaccessible lever voting machines are being brought back.
A spokeswoman for the city's Board of Elections said in a statement today that ballot marking devices would allow "all voters, including voters with disabilities, to vote privately and independently at their poll site" on Election Day.
The Gotham Gazette reported yesterday that the BOE could face legal action from advocates for the disabled over its plan to bring back lever voting machines.
James Weisman, senior vice president and senior counsel at the United Spinal Association, told the Gotham Gazette that his organization was considering taking legal steps to stop the BOE from using the machines.
He said disabled voters would face physical challenges to using the lever voting machines.
Yesterdayâ€™s election saw long lines, jammed ballot scanners and shortages of affidavit ballots. Few voters used shuttle buses to get to substitute polling sites. Scanners were broken at polling sites in Gramercy Park and Park Slope. Two of three emergency sites in Coney Island opened over two hours late. Some poll workers at sites had no idea that people could vote using affidavit ballots, and the city printed up only 250 per election district. According to unofficial results, the state Senate is now tied, but thousands of absentee ballots still need to be counted in very close races. Even if the Democrats win a majority, a number of Democrats say they'll back Republican leadership. Meanwhile, embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez won re-election with 89 percent of the vote despite the scandal swirling around him.
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A civil rights organization is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor the general election in Queens County after the city announced it would not provide Bengali-language ballots as required under federal law.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund announced today that it had submitted a letter to the DOJ requesting that monitors be deployed to oversee voting in six states, including New York.
AALDEF has been at the forefront of underscoring the failure of the city's Board of Election to adhere to federal law requiring language assistance for Asian voters in Queens.
The BOE says it has a plan to provide translators and some materials in Bengali for the general election on Nov. 6. But it blames technical problems with the voting machines for being unable to provide ballots translated into Bengali.
"Although the Board of Elections has offered to provide translated sample ballots, comparing a Bengali ballot to an English ballot is cumbersome for voters," AALDEF attorney Glenn D. Magpantay said in his letter to the DOJ. "The use of translated sample ballots is a new and completely untested procedure in New York City. Moreover, there is little assurance that such translated sample ballots will even be at poll sites for Bengali-speaking voters to access."