Voting in New York state will be on paper ballots, and not on lever machines, in 2010. For those who are wondering why, the short answer is that in 2006 New York state was found to be in non-compliance with the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
A lot of New Yorkers have questions as to how paper ballot voting works. This overview should answer most questions about the process.
Do I still go to the same polling place? Yes, unless you’ve been otherwise notified by the Board of Elections.
What do I do when I get to my polling place? Go to the table with your district number on it. You will be asked to sign the book, just like in previous elections. What’s different in 2010 is that instead of waiting in line at the lever machine, you’ll be given a paper ballot and a privacy sleeve.
Where do I fill out the ballot? Will anyone be able to see me? The Board of Elections has provided privacy screens at all polling places. The privacy screens look like the little study cubbies that most of us remember from elementary school. You may sit at a table to fill out your ballot or stand at a stanchion. (A stanchion is basically a stand-up study cubby.) Either way, there are privacy dividers to block people from viewing your ballot.
What does the ballot look like? The ballot is a large (8 1/2 X 14) piece of paper. It looks a lot like the standardized tests most of us took in school. The name of the race is where the question would be, and the candidates’ names are where the multiple choice answers would be.
How do I fill out the ballot? Darken the entire circle next to (to the left of) the candidate’s name. Do not make check marks, slashes, or x’es- the whole circle needs to be filled in. Also, don’t make stray marks on the ballot.
Some ballots may be two-sided, so remember to turn it over.
What if I don’t want to vote for every race? If you’d prefer not to cast a vote in a particular race, simply skip it (leave it blank) on the paper ballot. The scanner will record only the races for which you’ve actually voted.
What if I want to vote for a write-in candidate? Write-in votes are still an option on paper ballots.
What do I do once I’ve filled out the ballot? Place your paper ballot in the privacy sleeve and go over to one of the scanners. You can use any scanner in the polling place. The lever machines were set to particular races, but now it’s the paper ballots that are set to the races. The scanner can read all ballots, regardless of district.
Feed your paper ballot into the scanner. It doesn’t matter which way you put it in- the scanner can read it upside down, right-side up, start to finish, finish to start, left to right, or right to left.
Look at the screen to verify your ballot. If everything on the screen is the way you intended to vote, press the button that says “Cast”. Your vote has now been recorded.
If you find that there’s an error on your ballot, press the button that says “Return”. Your paper ballot will be returned to you without being recorded.
What if I make a mistake? If you find that you’ve made a mistake before you go to the scanner, bring your ballot back to the district table to receive a new one. If you find that you’ve made a mistake after you’ve put the ballot in the scanner, press the “Return” button on the scanner. The paper ballot will be returned to you, and the vote will not be recorded. Bring that ballot to your district table to receive a new paper ballot.
Ballots that have been marked erroneously are called spoiled ballots. Each voter is allowed to have a maximum of three spoiled ballots.
Can I receive voting assistance? Yes. Voting assistance is still available from poll workers, or voters may bring their own assistant. (Note: A voter may not be assisted by his/her employer or his/her union representative.)
What about those other machines? Those other machines, which made their first appearance in the 2008 primary elections, are called Ballot Marking Devices (BMD’s). BMD’s are designed to help people with disabilities vote independently. BMD’s have capacity for audio tactile interface, paddles, and sip-and-puff voting.
There will be one BMD at each polling place. Less than one percent of New Yorker voters use the BMD machines. The overwhelming majority of New York voters will use paper ballots and scanners.
When are the 2010 New York elections? The New York state primary election is Tuesday, September 14, 2010. Polls are open for the primaries from noon-9 pm. The general election is Tuesday, November 9, 2010. Polls are open for the general election from 6 am-9 pm.
Election Inspector Training Class; Monroe County, New York; August 11, 2010
“A Love Affair with Lever Machines”, New York Times, Thursday, August 26, 2010 http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/a-love-affair-with-lever-voting-machines/