A study by the AFL-CIO and Hart Research uncovered a racial gap at the polls in Tuesday's election, finding that 22 percent of black voters nationwide had a wait time of over 30 minutes compared to 9 percent for their white counterparts.
The statistics were released days after voters across Brooklyn and the rest of the city stood in lines for hours as chaos, confusion and overcrowding plagued polling places — many of which are located in neighborhoods with high numbers of black, Latino and Asian residents.
"We need a 21st century voting system," said Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn. "Instead of relying on one book and pen and paper, they need to embrace technology."
Compounding the problem at voting sites throughout the city, James said, were untrained poll workers who, in some cases, could not hear well, see small type or comprehend basic English.
Examples of confusion and long lines were legion across Brooklyn on Election Day, from voters expecting to cast ballots at P.S. 58 redirected to Carroll Gardens Library to tempers flaring at Marlborough Gardens in Ditmas Park to longtime voter Alonso Sealey turned away from P.S. 91 in Crown Heights.
James, who is running for Public Advocate in 2013, said she would push for a system already in use by a growing number of states throughout the U.S.
"Early voting would go a long way to addressing these long lines," she said.
A request for comment on James' call for early voting was not immediately returned by the state Board of Elections.
The state Legislature would have to approve any changes to New York's voting system.
In addition to early voting — which has been instituted in some form in 32 states and the District of Columbia — James proposed setting up curbside ballot drop-offs for seniors and people with disabilities as well as giving CUNY students to opportunity to work the polls in exchange for college credit.
The Brooklyn Democrat also rejected the idea that voting reform was a racial issue in the five boroughs, saying that complaints were fielded from a diverse array of voters from the Upper West Side, East Harlem and Flushing on Tuesday.
"The lines were long all over the city, in communities of color and in communities period," James said.