09/10/2013 10:48 am ET Updated Sep 10, 2013

New York Voting Problems Arise On Primary Day

By Colby Hamilton and Aidan Gardiner

NEW YORK CITY — New Yorkers headed to the polls for their first chance to select Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successor and cast ballots in a host of other elections — but several broken voting machines across the city stalled their efforts.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. and almost immediately faced problems. In Midtown, one machine serving District 12 broke, prompting workers to switch to paper ballots. In Park Slope, another was down for 30 minutes until a mechanic returned it to service.

"This machine was out of order," said Syedur Dastagir, coordinator of the Park Slope Armory polling place. "[But] voting continued."

Voting machines were delivered late to the Central Synagogue polling place near Lexington Avenue and East 55th Street, a Board of Elections official said. They were up and running by 7:15 a.m., she added.

Primary day hosted a series of elections, including the Democratic and Republican mayoral contests, Democratic races for city comptroller and public advocate, and various council races. They stay open until 9 p.m.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio held his lead among the Democratic mayoral contenders, with former front-runner Christine Quinn vying with ex-comptroller Bill Thompson for a robust second place.

If de Blasio or any other candidate fails to secure 40 percent of the Democratic vote, then they'll face the second place finisher in an Oct. 1 run-off election.

De Blasio, who voted early Tuesday at a Park Slope library, at 431 Sixth Ave., said his campaign was expecting a run-off.

"Our team is energized and ready to finish strong today, and then we'll be up in the morning ready to go into the run-off," he said.

"We are prepared for one and we feel very confident that we'll do well in the runoff."

Several voters at the same polling place said they cast their ballots for de Blasio because they felt he was more in touch with the public and would steer the city in a better direction.

"His sensibility is close to mine," said Kelly Murphy, a 56-year-old business administrator.

"He's very down to earth. A very cool guy."

On the GOP side, former Giuliani aide and MTA chief Joe Lhota has consistently led in the polls against supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis and Doe Fund founder George McDonald. However, Catsimatidis personal fortune and growing list of GOP supporters has allowed him to remain competitive.

Democratic voters will also decide on a comptroller nominee. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer made a last-minute entrance into the race, just days before petitions to get on the ballot were due.

He’s argued his experience as an elected official makes him perfect for the job, while his opponent, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, has used Spitzer’s resignation-inducing prostitution scandal as proof Spitzer can’t be trusted. The two are neck-and-neck in the polls.

Additionally, voters in the Democratic primary will get to choose their candidate to replace out-going public advocate Bill de Blasio.

The crowded field includes Brooklyn Councilwoman Tish James, former attorney and deputy public advocate Reshma Saujani, Brooklyn State Senator Daniel Squadron and Columbia University professor Catherine Guerriero.

Voters in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens will also be looking to select new borough president nominees, and all 52 of the city’s council districts are up for grabs.

The general election will be held on November 5.

With reporting by Trevor Kapp, Alan Neuhauser, and Nikhita Venugopal.



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