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New York Primary Plagued By Voting Issues, Including Long Lines, Broken Machines And Absentee Ballot Mix-Ups

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Many New Yorkers say voting in the primary Tuesday was a nightmare.

Some people never got their absentee ballots, and others were waiting in line for hours.

The line to vote at Bronx Regional High School snaked around the block for most of the day Tuesday.

"How long do you think you waited in line to vote?" CBS2's Ali Bauman asked Shameeka France.

"Oh, two hours, easy. I came here four times," France said.

"I waited inside because it was so hot out here and it's been a long time. It's been a long time to wait," Renee Alford, of Morrisania, said.

"I went walking in to find out and they told me there was only five people they were letting in at the time," Kolaco Acquindo, of Morrisania, said.

Acquindo called the Board of Elections to complain about the hold-up, and they eventually sent over an employee two hours before the polls closed.

In the meantime, Acquindo says people who were waiting in line to vote got so frustrated they began to leave.

"People started saying it was dinnertime and it was late and they wanna go home and eat, and I was pleading and begging them please don't go, please don't go, this is your right, stay and do it," Acquindo said.

Voting issues spanned beyond this polling site.

Many New Yorkers took to social media Tuesday about their experiences.

One person asked, "What is happening at PS 44 in Staten Island? Folks were turned away because the machines were not open."

Another wrote, "I just left my polling site and two out of the three machines are out of service."

Some residents in Upper Manhattan say they received a polling site change notice in the mail Monday, giving less than 24 hours notice that their designated polling site moved 20 blocks away.

New Yorkers waited in long lines to vote in the primary election on June 23, 2020. (Credit: CBS2)

And then there's the reported issues with absentee ballots.

One woman lamented, "I didn't receive my absentee ballot in time to participate in today's NY Primary. I had originally signed up for one early and was sent a wrong ballot. I was told I had to request a new one but that one never made it."

Another person wrote, "I got three envelopes Monday night in the mail with separate absentee ballots (state and federal) and requesting paid postage. I sent in a prepaid envelope with my ballot last week."

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In the Bronx, voters say these issues are unprecedented.

"This is the first time in this neighborhood we ever had anything like this, and so I can definitely blame this on COVID-19," Acquindo said.

After repeatedly asking the Board of Elections what went wrong, they told CBS2, "As instances were brought to our attention the Board took immediate remedial action. We sent out numerous communication to the poll workers reiterating their training and sent out teams to sites to ensure that both pages were distributed to voters."

Absentee ballots had to be postmarked by June 23. The Board of Elections said people could also drop their completed absentee ballots off at their polling sites.

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