Early Voting in New York: 5 Takeaways

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According to Mr. Kellner, polling site capacity is limited by the constraints of their cradlepoints, boxy black wireless network routers that can only accommodate eight electronic poll pads and printer stations each. That’s how voters are checked in, meaning there can be major delays.

Mr. Kellner, the state board co-chair, did some math to break down the city’s problem: “If it takes two minutes to process each voter at the electronic poll book, well then, if everybody’s waiting in line, that station can only handle 30 voters per hour.”

“And if you only have six stations, then that’s only 180 voters per hour,” he continued. “And that’s the fundamental arithmetic that the New York City board is very bad at.”

The state is trying to find a way to enable more poll pads to be used with the routers to check in voters, Mr. Kellner said.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Board of Elections declined multiple requests for comment.

The city Board of Elections is plagued by nepotism, dysfunction, and a structure that works against political accountability. No elected official owns it. Rather, its ten commissioners are appointed by Democratic and Republican party leaders in the city’s five counties, making New York the only state in the country to have elections boards chosen almost entirely by party bosses.

State lawmakers have shown no appetite to amend the state Constitution, which establishes the board’s structure.

The orphaned status of the board was reflected in a recent back and forth between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio.

The governor said the board’s dysfunction was the city’s fault. The mayor begged to differ.

Mr. Kaehny, the government watchdog, said, “The powers that be don’t care.”

Matthew Sedacca contributed reporting.

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