Most of Westchester’s legislators want voters in the county to continue to use mechanical lever voting machines because, as they wrote in a letter to Gov. David Paterson, they are “reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective.”
While preferable to touch screens, optical scan voting have malfunctioned in many counties throughout the U.S. including in Florida, West Virginia, Michigan and Washington, D.C., says the letter signed by 16 of the 17 Westchester legislators.
“Replacing lever voting machines is very costly,” the letter continues. “It has proved to create voter confusion and may result in the use of machines that could compromise the integrity of future elections.”
In 2002, the federal government enacted the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which required states to replace older and unreliable voting systems and to insure that voting is accessible to all voters, including those with disabilities.
While Westchester uses lever voting machines, it makes paper ballots available to those with disabilities. The ballots are counted with optical-scanning voting machines.
The State Board of Elections has approved a pilot program to introduce a paper ballot-optical-scan system for all voters in most of the state’s 62 counties. However, there are several holdouts: the five boroughs of New York City, and Nassau, Suffolk and Rockland counties.
Westchester County Legislators Chairman Bill Ryan, D-White Plains, said the board doesn’t oppose implementing a system that incorporates optical scanners if they are used in conjunction with lever voting machines.