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Local News July 11, 2013  RSS feed

PULL THE LEVER FOR PRIMARIES

Manual Voting Machines Back Temporarily
by Robert Pozarycki

When voters head to the polls for citywide primaries and necessary runoffs later this year, they will cast their choices on the lever machines last used in an election three years ago.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed on Tuesday, July 9, a law approved by the Assembly and State Senate last month authorizing the use of the manual voting machines for the September primaries and potential runoff elections to follow. Levers were last used in New York City in the 2010 election.

Optical scan paper ballot systems will be back for the November general election and contests thereafter.

Reportedly, state lawmakers passed a bill to bring the lever machines out of storage due to concerns that the New York City Board of Elections would be unable to prepare and test the optical scan voting systems in an expedited fashion to be ready for both the primary and runoff contests.

There were also worries that manual recounts of electronic paper ballots necessitated by a very close primary race would not be completed in time for a necessary runoff.

Calling it a “poor solution,” Cuomo himself was not a fan of the idea, but he nonetheless signed the bill into law Tuesday, claiming that “circumstances required” him to approve the legislation.

“Preventing the use of lever voting machines through a veto could profoundly impact the integrity of this year’s elections,” the governor wrote in his memo announcing his approval of the measure.

The primary contests for citywide elected offices—including mayor, public advocate, city comptroller and all 51 City Council seats—will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Should no candidate in a contest receive 40 percent of the vote in a primary, the top two candidates in each race will advance to a runoff on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

The original runoff date was Sept. 24, but the law signed by Cuomo Tuesday moved the contest back a week to avoid a conflict with the Jewish high holy day of Succoth. Moving the primary to Oct. 1 also provides the Board of Elections with seven extra days to prepare for a runoff.

Chances are good that both the Democratic and Republican primary contests for mayor will move to a runoff, as recent polls indicate that no declared candidate in either party has the required 40 percent needed to win the nomination outright.

Petitioning for candidates to get on the primary ballots in both parties is currently ongoing.

The declared Democratic hopefuls for mayor include City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Comptroller

John Liu, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, former City Council Member Sal Albanese and minister Erick Salgado.

On the Republican side, the mayoral candidates include former MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota, businessman John Catsimatidis and nonprofit Doe Fund Chairman George McDonald.

A recent poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal, NBC New York and Marist College indicated that four in 10 Republican voters are undecided.

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To register to vote or for more information, call 1-212-VOTE-NYC or visit www.vote.nyc.ny.us.