NYC vote counters can’t even keep track of their tablets: DOI probe

Here’s one more thing the Board of Elections can’t count!

The Big Apple’s scandal-marred elections agency failed to keep track of the thousands of computer tablets it uses for poll books, to train staff and to transmit unofficial results on Election Night, The Post has learned.

The Department of Investigation audit uncovered the startling failures in March 2020 as they inspected the Board of Elections headquarters and borough offices, the documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Law, show.

Only the BOE’s Brooklyn operation kept track of the Apple iPads it was assigned as part of the $24 million effort to digitalize Gotham’s old-school poll books, which voters must sign before casting their ballots.

An official at the Queens office guessed they kept 800 of the ‘poll pads’ on hand — but had no hard count, the DOI reported.

The BOE offices in The Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island didn’t keep an inventory either.

“None of the other [facilities] managed a centralized master list or database of onsite poll pads,” DOE inspectors wrote in a letter sent to the BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan on April 8.

The BOE bought 10,000 iPads to serve as poll books from Know Ink in 2019, records show.

The tablets and accessories — including receipt printers — cost $9.9 million alone, accounting for nearly half of the $23.9 million contract, documents filed with the Comptroller’s Office show.

The problems weren’t limited to the iPad poll books.

The review discovered that BOE officials also failed to keep tabs on the agency’s Microsoft Surface tablets, which perform a variety of functions including transmitting unofficial results after the polls close on Election Night, checking in poll workers and training the agency’s staff.

The DOI report singled out the BOE’s Poll Site Devices Unit — which is in charge of ordering tablets and tracking them — for special ire.

Investigators “found it to be disorganized, unkempt and in general disarray,” it states. “Although DOI observed some tablets stored in a locked storage room, a majority of tablets were stored in unlocked storage carts or crats or on desks and tables.”

The unit, which offices out of the BOE’s Lower Manhattan headquarters, also failed to produce a list of the number of tablets assigned to its care.

One staffer estimated that 577 Microsoft tablets were stored there, but DOI’s audit turned up more than 1,000 machines — 133 of which were broken.

None of the BOE’s five borough offices produced an accurate count of the machines in their inventories either.

Good government advocates assailed the latest failure by the patronage-laden Board of Elections, which is run by the county Democratic and Republican parties under state law — and largely exempt from any local oversight.

“The NYC BOE is a dysfunctional relic of New York City’s corrupt past,” said John Kaehny, executive director of reform group Reinvent Albany. “It’s a patronage pit and the state should give the city the power to abolish it and replace it with a non-partisan, professionally staffed, agency modeled on the Campaign Finance Board.”

The DOI review is the latest in a string of black eyes for the agency. It’s come under intense scrutiny after:

  • Botching a 2016 voter roll purge in the run-up to the hotly contested Democratic presidential primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders;
  • A voting machine meltdown in 2018 where news reports eventually exposed Ryan took junkets from the manufacturer, Election Systems & Software, which gave officials inaccurate information about their machines as they bid for the contract;
  • Tossing 84,000 mail ballots from the 2020 Democratic primary for technical issues — many of which were the BOE’s fault — after the coronavirus pandemic forced a major expansion of absentee voting.

After making a mess of the June primaries, a top figure at the state Board of Elections crafted a six-page reform plan and requested a sitdown with the city BOE’s commissioners — only to get the brush-off.

“All electronic equipment associated with Election operations is accounted for. There is no missing equipment,” insisted BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez

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