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New York City Board of Elections fires elections chief

By Jesse Solomon, CNN
  • Voters in New York experienced problems casting primary ballots in September
  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the situation then "a royal screw-up"
  • The city's elections board said Tuesday it had voted to fire the executive director
  • A spokeswoman would not give a reason for the termination

New York (CNN) -- The head of New York City Board of Elections was ousted Tuesday, according to board spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez.

In a statement, the commissioners of the elections board said that George Gonzalez, who was appointed as executive director in August, stepped down after the commissioners voted to dismiss him.

When asked by CNN, Vasquez would not give a reason for Gonzalez's dismissal, though the board received numerous complaints after New York's September 14 primary, when voters experienced long lines and system errors were found in the state's new electronic voting machines, known as scanners.

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said he received complaints from around the city. "There are problems everywhere, but specifically where I voted in Park Slope, Brooklyn -- they were not functional until 9 a.m. So they lost three hours," De Blasio said.

De Blasio said he was concerned that morning voters who saw long lines may have skipped voting in order to make it to work on time.

When asked on primary day about voting problems, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to reporters by saying, "We have been told of some polling sites that opened two to four hours late.That is a royal screw-up and it's completely unacceptable."

Howard Bragg, an on-site coordinator for poll workers at a school on New York's Upper West Side, said the biggest issues with the new scanning systems occurred when voters fed their ballots into the machine to be recorded. Bragg said if the edges of the ballot were not torn off evenly, the scanner spit it back out and the screen gave a "system error" message.

Bragg likened it to putting a crinkled dollar bill into a candy machine. "If it's not crisp, it will come back at you, but that doesn't mean the machine registered the dollar," he said.

Gonzales's dismissal was announced at a public hearing Tuesday, though Vasquez said that the commissioners' vote was held in private at an executive session.

CNN's Bradley Gallo contributed to this report.