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Primary outlook: Two races of note and BOE changes

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 4/11/2013, 4:21 p.m.
Push for early voting in NY begins

Local primaries take place in New York City this Thursday with a few key races of importance.

New York State Sen. Shirley Huntley's running for re-election in the 33rd District, trying to fend off a challenge from New York City Councilman James Sanders Jr. Huntley is currently under investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for alledgedly scamming taxpayers out of money and interfering in a state probe regarding those improprieties. However, one Huntley supporter has taken to the Internet to accuse the attorney general of participating in a "political lynching." Rochdale Village Vice President Joe Evans let his feelings be known via the Rochdale Advocate website and in leaflets passed around the neighborhood.

"Not only did the political lynch mob led by Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat, wait just days before the election to bring charges, he planned weeks ago to arrest Sen. Huntley at her home, where news outlets could take pictures of her in handcuffs," wrote Evans. "They planned to parade the 72-year-old Southeast Queens elected official in front of the media to try and convince her supporters (Black folks) into thinking she is guilty before the trial, more importantly, before the election."

There are a few more elections of importance for Black New York. Inez Barron is running for re-election in the 60th Assembly District against Chris Banks. Banks, the 27-year-old founder and executive director of the nonprofit East New York United Concerned Citizens, has accused Barron of not having a specific plan for bringing jobs and resources into the community. Barron was elected to the Assembly in 2008.

But the elections themselves aren't the only news this Thursday.

The primary will also see the debut of a new vote-counting tactic courtesy of the New York City Board of Elections (BOE). According to BOE spokesperson Valerie Vasquez, the new reporting process includes poll workers removing a USB-type stick from each voting scanner and handing it over to a police officer in a envelope, who then takes it to his local precinct where trained poll workers will upload the stick. Vasquez said that the point of this process is to "eliminate data entry and hand counts and increasing accuracy."

Another change involves a redesigned website with enlarged text and places where citizens can subscribe to BOE update emails. The website includes larger text that's easier to read and offers translations into various languages, including Chinese, Russian and Bengali. "The BOE website's new look and functionality will help New York City voters more easily navigate all our resources and tools," said BOE President Maria R. Guastella in a released statement. "This is an exciting update that will allow voters to educate and empower themselves about voting in New York City".

Vasquez told the AmNews that the BOE also released a mobile phone application for certain smartphones. An iPhone BOE app is slated for release in November.

However, some residents have complained about receiving the wrong polling information in the mail in time for the election. Vasquez said the BOE made sure it sent polling change postcards to any area that might've had a change via redistricting by early August.

"This year was a redistricting year," said Vasquez. "If in fact there were any changes to an individual's poll site, we were legally required to inform them and we sent out a poll site change notice. We did send a booklet-style notice with all of the required information by the first week of August."

Vasquez said if there was wrong polling information, it's because of redistricting changes that happened after early August.