Early Reports of Scanner Outages Slow the Voting Process; Some Lines Getting Shorter in the Afternoon

Photo by Naama Yehuda outside PS 163.

Election Day is proving somewhat chaotic on the Upper West Side, with readers reporting lots of scanner outages, meaning that the wait to vote has been long at some polling stations.

We heard from voters that all of the scanners were down temporarily at both the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on 86th Street and West End Avenue and at PS 165 at 245 West 109th Street. Other polling sites also had long lines due to scanner outages. PS 87 on 77th Street had only one scanner working for awhile, and a polling site on 93rd Street likewise saw extensive lines. Workers were having people put their ballots in emergency ballot boxes, ostensibly to be counted later.

“This is outrageous,” said Maya Lippman, who was turned away from voting at the church on 86th Street. Scanners at the church and PS 165 were eventually fixed and the lines slimmed down, and the church even gave out free baked goods.

Tight quarters at PS 87. Photo by Terena Bell.

But several people were clearly dissuaded from voting, at least temporarily. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the Board of Elections, blamed the problems in part on the rain and on an unwieldy two-page ballot. Wet clothing led to wet ballots led to scanner malfunctions.

New York is one of the few states that still doesn’t allow early voting.

NEWS | 21 comments | permalink
    1. ethnikmatter says:

      New York disgraceful election system is official voter suppression. No early voting, same day registration. If you work early/stay late, you cannot get to your assigned poll in time – and you cannot vote. The voter suppression system is deliberate because:
      De Blasio was voted in by 8.5% of eligible voters.
      @Ocasio2018 was voted in by 2.7% of eligible voters.
      Let that sink in.

      • Liza says:

        I don’t agree with your belief about intentional voter suppression, and in no way minimize the impact that the BOE’s abysmal performance has on voting, but NYS law does require that employers allow employees to take off working time to enable them to vote if the polls aren’t open for four hours before or after the employee’s shift, and up to two hours of that leave must be paid. E.g., if your hours are 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m., you’re entitled to the leave because the polls aren’t open at 5:30 a.m. or 10:00 p.m. So working hours shouldn’t be an impediment to voting. I suspect that many people are unaware of this law, and while employers are required to post the text of the law, I doubt that many advertise or encourage it.
        Now that the NYS Senate has a Democrat majority, perhaps voting law reform will become a reality.

      • Sarah says:

        If those numbers make you mad, you’d be even more angry with the results of adding early voting and same-day registration, which facilitate voting for populations that primarily vote Democratic.

        But, by all means, Republicans, keep complaining about voter suppression, keep the issue before the public!

    2. Stan-the-Skeptic says:

      Re: “New York is one of the few states that still doesn’t allow early voting.”

      Am skeptical about BOTH early AND absentee ballots for one simple reason: WHEN are those votes COUNTED:
      1) Before election day?; or
      2) after election day?

      AND, are the early and absentee” totals” actually included in the evening results reported to B.o.E. and then to the media or are they HELD ASIDE in the event of a contested election?

      Much more reassuring to see a FUNCTIONING SCANNER display the message “Your Vote Has Been Entered”.

    3. Adena Berkowitz says:

      Bring back the old voting machines!

    4. Andrea says:

      At BJ on 89th Street, for the better part of an hour (from at least 7:45AM) there were only two out of three scanners working. People seemed pretty patient. Scaffolding in front of the building both obscured the entrance but also provided a protective overhang against the elements.

    5. CC says:

      I voted at Laguardia HS (65th + Amsterdam) before 8am and there were no scanner issues. Some confusion in the lines once more people started to show up but overall was a calm and easy process. Thank you to everyone sticking it out in long lines!!

    6. Naomi Sheiner says:

      At 5:00 pm approximately, there was no line and all scanners seemed to be working at PS 87 on 77 St. So if you were hesitating, come out and vote.

    7. Mad rogers says:

      Smooth as silk at Goddard Riverside @ 11 am.

    8. Anna Inez says:

      I went at 6:00 AM to UWS on 109th. Always feel like its so disorganized. It feels like the “voting” spaces are made of flimsy cardboard, and the scanners remind me of machines from the 1950’s that are still connected to “UNIVAC”. Really NEW YORK, we need some major changes in the way people vote. Early voting would be a start

    9. Treehugger says:

      PS 163: That line translated to 30 minutes outside and 15 minutes inside. Happy to exercise my privilege and duty every other year even in the rain!

    10. mark says:

      government in action. Ironically, most of these people will still vote big government into office and ignore the irony

    11. RF says:

      P.S. 811 (82nd/WEA) was a disorganized mess. Way too many people in a small space, lots of pushing and yelling, and none of the poll workers seemed to know how to keep the lines organized. Waited in a “ballot scanning” line for about 20 minutes only to be told that that was no longer a line, and directed to the back of ANOTHER line, for an additional 20+ minutes, before finally reaching a scanner.

    12. CJ says:

      On 93rd street it is currently taking well over an hour to vote. The line inside for the scanners circles around the room then goes down an extremely long hall, practically a block, and then doubles back down the same hall.

    13. Lin says:

      Ballot “complicated” with two sides, 4 pages. They also hung up the sample ballot too high to read. When I mentioned it they did not seem to care. They said if I do understand the ballot (once start to vote) to let them know. This slows things down because reading ballot beforehand would be very helpful. This voting place
      services a good amount of elderly/disabled voters.

    14. NotImpressed says:

      I voted at Rutgers Church.
      There were no technical problems but the space is really small and the staff sat passively without helping guide people through the process.
      They need to find better people for these jobs.

    15. AC says:

      Global Election Services is a company that has developed a proprietary software system utilizing blockchain technology for elections specifically. Third World countries have implemented such blockchain technology during their elections and have had smoother operations! Someone at the Board of Elections needs to investigate.

    16. Jonathan Smith says:


      Wait in line for hours/days for Springsteen tix, for the mall to open on Black Friday, at Apple stores for the newest phone. 15 minutes to vote? Too long?

      • S.O. Antiquated says:

        Why is it that you can buy Springsteen tickets on the Ticketmaster app, buy Black Friday deals from your computer on Thursday or order a new iPhone via a h number of devices in 2 clicks, all while ordering a 5 course meal, having your groceries delivered and applying for a job at the same time .

        But you can’t make the easiest and most important choice on your electronic device- voting.

        Let’s get with the times!!!

        • dannyboy says:

          I have experienced errors in my online grocery order. I wouldn’t want that to happen with my vote.

          I stopped ordering groceries online. That shouldn’t happen with my voting.