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New York City Comptroller To Audit Board Of Election Due To Hundreds Of Thousands Of Polling Problems

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York City Comptroller said hundreds of thousands may be dealing with polling problems on New York's primary day.

CBS2's Steve Langford reported Scott Stringer is going to audit the Board of Elections due to the numerous polling problems across the city.

"Why is it alleged that 125,000 people have been removed from the voter rolls? Why did 60,000 people receive notices to vote that didn't have the primary date? Why were people told they were in the wrong polling place time and time again?" Stringer said. "The next president of the United States could very easily be decided tonight and yet the incompetence of the Board of Elections puts a cloud over these results."

Many of the voting problems occurred early in the morning, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported. 

At one polling site at Carlton and Atlantic avenues in Brooklyn, the site coordinator didn't even bother to show up and it took about an hour-and-a-half to find a replacement so the poll could open.

Television and radio contributor John Burnett took to Twitter to voice his complaints, saying that in Harlem he was told there were no GOP ballots available.

He said he was told he'd have to wait for delivery.

Other voters said they were plagued by registry issues. One woman said if your last name was at the end of the alphabet at her polling site in Windsor Terrace, you had to vote affidavit.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement he is supporting the comptroller's audit.

"It has been reported to us from voters and voting rights monitors that the voting lists in Brooklyn contain numerous errors, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from voting lists. I am calling on the Board of Election to reverse that purge and update the lists again using Central, not Brooklyn borough, Board of Election staff," de Blasio said.

De Blasio added that these errors show that "major reforms will be needed to the Board of Election and in the state law governing it."

The office for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it received 562 phone calls and 140 emails with complaints between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3:50 p.m. The attorney general said it is the largest volume of complaints they have received for a general election since taking office in 2011. The office said they only received 150 complaints in the 2012 general election.

The most common complaint was voters being told they weren't registered, followed by being told they were not registered with a political party, and the denial of affidavit ballots when requested.

Other complaints included lack of privacy, accessibility issues, unclear instruction, and the availability of only blue pens when ballots state they must be marked in black.

The Board of Elections told CBS2 that these types of problems happened in previous years.

"The problems were on par with other years, but more media attention has been paid to this primary because of the candidates," the board said.

Michael Ryan, the board's executive director, told CBS2's Valerie Castro that most of the problems were anecdotal.

"Either it was a relatively minor problem that was resolved, or it was a problem that didn't exist in the first place. And on top of that, there was quite a bit of lack of understanding on the part of voters with respect to New York's closed primary system," Ryan explained.

Ryan told WCBS 880 placed some of the blame on errors by voters.

"A certain amount of this does come down to voter responsibility. You can't impart information on an audience that is not hungry for it," Ryan told WCBS 880. "So folks who are going about their lives, and if they're not paying attention to the process until the last minute and they just go to the poll site without doing any further investigation, they're doing themselves a disservice and they're doing a disservice to the other folks who might be inconvenienced because they're coming to the poll site to vote and the process is being slowed down by people who shouldn't be there in the first place."

WCBS 880's Alex Silverman was also among those who had a less-than-ideal voting experience Tuesday morning. 

In Hell's Kitchen on the west side of Manhattan, everything was going smoothly for Silverman until he saw a piece of cardboard on top of the scanner and realized there was a problem. He was told "the electricians are on their way."

When the machines aren't working, you slide your ballot into a box underneath the scanner.

"Not terribly satisfying," Silverman added.

Some even worried their vote would not be counted at all due to scanner issues.



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