2010-11-19 / Top Stories

City Conducting Voter Experience Survey

As part of the New York City Council’s oversight of the New York City Board of Elections, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Governmental Operations Chair Gale A. Brewer announced a nonpartisan Election Day volunteer initiative to survey New York City voters on their experience at the polls. Since the Board of Elections indicated at the Council’s October oversight hearing that tracking poll site performance is not a priority of their agency, the City Council, through the Committee on Governmental Operations, is conducting its own voter experience survey after Election Day.

Volunteers from the City Council and good government organizations including New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG); Citizens Union; League of Women Voters; and the Center for the Independence of the Disabled as well as Make the Road New York informally surveyed voters on their voting experience as they exited their poll sites. Volunteers enter results into an online survey tool. This 3-4 minute non-partisan, anonymous survey is ten brief questions and any voter can fill out a survey on his or her voting experience online at: www.surveymon key.com/electionday. Additionally, New Yorkers who call 311 with problems at the polls will also be directed to the City Council’s survey, which will be published on both the city’s website (www.nyc.gov) and the 311 website (www.nyc.gov/311).

“The City Council and good government groups are literally taking voting concerns and poll site evaluation into their own hands tomorrow,” said Quinn. “Through this city-wide volunteer oversight initiative, the Council will collect uniform data to determine if the Board of Elections corrected the slew of missteps that occurred on this year’s problem-ridden Primary Day. If you are voting in the General Election please take two minutes to share your voting experience with the Council by filling out the very brief 10-question survey at www.surveymonkey.com/electionday.”

“This volunteer survey initiative will allow us to gather important information on voters’ experience on Election Day – a measure that the Board of Elections has been unable to do,” said Brewer. “We’re looking forward to analyzing the data and using it as part of the Committee on Governmental Operations’ continuing oversight of the Board. We’re grateful that good government groups and so many members of the public have volunteered their time for this important oversight project and we welcome anyone who votes tomorrow to fill out our quick survey on the web.”

The survey questions cover the spectrum of voting difficulties that occurred during the Primary election, ranging from voting equipment malfunctions and late poll site openings, to inadequately trained poll workers and lack of privacy when casting ballots. At the Council’s Primary Day oversight hearing in September, the Board stated that problems would be corrected in time for the general election.

Specifically, the Council’s survey questions include:

•Did you find the ballot difficult to read

or confusing? •Did the poll workers offer you a privacy

sleeve/folder to protect your privacy? •Did you insert your ballot into the

optical scan machine on your own? •Overall, how would you compare

today’s experience to your experience

in the Primary?

“Citizens Union is pleased to join the City Council in administering a survey of voters’ experience at the polls on Election Day. Our members will participate in conducting this important survey evaluating whether the problems that occurred in the September Primary Election - late poll openings, machines not functioning properly, and voters privacy being compromised - happen again in the General Election tomorrow,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “In exercising its oversight of the Board of Elections, the Council has devised a creative and timely way to measure the performance of the Board, something the Board has been resistant to doing internally for too long. Citizens Union believes that the information gathered from this survey will provide an initial sense of what has improved and where further improvements are needed. This should help inform needed changes to election administration in the City.”

“The City Council’s survey of voters should let New Yorkers know how good or poor a job election officials are doing,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).

On Election Day, Speaker Quinn was to survey voters at her polling site after she cast her vote. The City Council intends to utilize survey responses as part of its November oversight hearing on the performance of the Board of Elections at the General Election.

Since Primary Day, Quinn and Brewer have sent multiple letters to the Board of Elections requesting that the agency develop stronger measures to evaluate poll site performance. Quinn and Brewer also sent a letter to the Board’s commissioners urging them to conduct a public, nation-wide search for its next executive director.

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