NY is set to miss the mark again

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   Voting-rights advocates have been predicting New York would not be able to roll out new voting machines by September 2009, as ordered by federal court, but the state Board of Elections has now made it official. In its latest update to U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe, the board said it will not have enough time to complete testing and certifying voting machines (to replace its 20,000 or so mechanical-lever ones) before next year’s primary.  

   The Board of Elections wrote in its weekly report (July 25) that its “activities and progress toward HAVA (Help America Vote Act) compliance are in jeopardy…” SysTest, a company hired to certify machines for the state, “continues to identify time and schedule as major constraints and risks to the successful, timely completion of the project,” the report said.

   New York is the last state in the country to comply with HAVA, which was passed by Congress to prevent vote-counting problems in the 2000 presidential elections from happening again. The U.S. Department of Justice sued New York, and Sharpe has been closely monitoring New York’s progress (or lack thereof, as the case may be).

   Bo Lipari, who heads New Yorkers for Verified Voting, said before the July 25 update was filed that he didn’t think the deadline would be feasible. This is a July 24 posting from his blog:

   “The state sets the highest bar in the nation for approval of voting machines, one that vendors have never been required to meet before. Their performance in New York demonstrates that they are a long, long way from understanding that the public will not stand for poorly designed, badly tested and outrageously overpriced equipment, and a business philosophy of let the customer be damned.”

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  1. While NYS’s Legislature and the voting vendors may be missing the mark- the voters of New York are not, assuming the mark we are looking to achieve is a secure, transparent, reliable voting system. New York’s citizens still enjoy the benefit of their time-tested theft-deterring, accurate lever voting system. The plan to switch to computerized optical scanners or DREs is unconstitutional. It will disenfranchise the citizens of New York.

    Software-driven voting systems have been proven to be vulnerable to undetectable tampering. They are incapable of producing accurate, dependable election results. That’s why the Legislature has required that we hand count a small portion of the ballots in the new law: the machine count cannot be relied on. But counting some of the ballots after the fact, after the election is over, after the press has announced the winner, after the ballots have been exposed to increased opportunities to post-election tampering, is the worst way to run an election. Why in the world would we switch to such a voting system?

    The answer is that the Legislature thought it had to switch to computers in 2005 when it changed the law, because our levers were not accessible to those voters with special needs. But now that we are supplying each poll site with a ballot marking device for the 2008 election, our levers are HAVA-compliant. See Clearing the Air for more on the facts, http://re-mediaetc.blogspot.com/2008/07/facts-myths-about-voting-in-new-york.html. We should not be working to certify computers to count our votes when we know that no amount of testing certification will change the fact that the optical scanner or the DRE can be rigged without detection on the day of election, regardless of how it tested before the election. We should be insisting that we keep our lever voting system, which can provide us with accurate, election night results. See The Fight to Hold on to Our HAVA-Compliant Lever Voting System, http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Fight-to-Hold-on-to-Ou-by-andi-novick-080728-948.html and sign this PETITION TO SAVE OUR LEVERS, http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/save_ny_levers.

    Andrea Novick, Esq.

    Re-Media Election Transparency Coalition
    Legal Coordinator, Election Defense Alliance