Across the country on Election Day, news reports frequently highlight stories of polling places opening late. However, it’s often hard to put these reports in perspective without knowing another crucial piece of information: how many polling places open on time.
Annual reports from the New York City Board of Elections help provide some context and indicate that while delayed openings may dominate the headlines, they are decidedly the exception among polling places in the city.
During the 2008 election cycle, 99.7 percent of the city’s more than 1,300 polling places opened on time for the presidential primary and only four polling places opened late. During the general election that same year, 98.3 percent opened on time with 23 polling places opening late.
The city’s 2009 report found similar numbers and also noted that the average length of the delay at the polling places that opened late was around half an hour.
The 2010 annual report does not include this information, but city election officials did testify in front of the city council about an increase in polling places opening late during the September 2010 primary. Approximately 6 percent of all polling places—at least 80 locations—opened late. Some of these delays were attributed to problems with rolling out new voting technology.