NYC to track voting problems with Twitter, 311 system

In response to what was characterized as “a royal screw-up,” on Primary Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday efforts by his office to track faulty or dysfunctional polling places across the five boroughs. The City’s 311 system will track Election Day complaints and Mayor Bloomberg encouraged voters to submit reports of any problems they encounter through Twitter.

This Tuesday marks the first time NYC will use their 311 Customer Service line to track polling place problems. The Board of Elections was under heavy scrutiny in September after widespread reports surfaced of voting machine malfunctions and hours-long delays. It marked the first time that New York City used electronic voting machines

“There is no excuse for mistakes or poor management at polling sites, and so we are asking all New Yorkers to report any problems they experience on Election Day,” Mayor Bloomberg said during a weekly radio address.

In a press release, Mayor Bloomberg said the Board of Elections performance on Primary Day was unacceptable and that they have repeatedly declined “resources to facilitate data collection,” to help the Board better understand its operational challenges.

According to city officials, 311 will begin collecting basic information on the nature of these calls, before callers are transferred to the Board of Elections. 311 operators will record whether the reason for the call concerns difficulties with poll sites, voting machine, or poll site workers.

The NYC Mayor’s Office Twitter account will be tracking public tweets that report problems or concerns. They are asking that voters use the hashtag #nycvotes to let the city how machines are working and polling stations are being managed.

“The Mayor and City Council do not oversee the Board of Elections, but we all have an interest in holding this body accountable, and helping it improve the delivery of services,” Mr. Bloomberg continued in his address. “And that is why we intend to provide the data we collect through 311 and Twitter to the Board of Elections and also make it available to the public. Because the only secret on Election Day should be who you’re casting your vote for – the rest of the process should be completely transparent.”