[No] More Delay on Voting Machines
January 24th, 2008
State elections officials have delayed meeting federal requirements on voting machines for so long, that a federal judge threatened to throw them in jail for contempt or strip them of their authority if they don’t do so by tomorrow. And yesterday, the state Board of Elections met to do as the judge demanded and certify machines that counties across the state can choose among. But those in the audience for this event-of-events in the voting world spent several hours of their day watching the board ultimately decide nothing.
[...Until just an hour ago, right as I started this post. They approved three machines, none of them "touch screen."... Unless, of course, a lawsuit by two makers of the touch screen technology holds any sway... Also, only one machine per polling place will consist of those approved until 2009, where touch screens may come back into the picture again.]
New York [was] the only state in the country not to comply with a federal law called the 2002 Help America Vote Act mandating the use of new voting machines. The recalcitrance had been so exasperating to some that it led Newsday to compare the situation to a comic opera and a a cry of kudos for the judge’s suggestion of jail time from the Daily News.
At the same time, the prospect of action unnerved many of those same people. They worried that when the board did act, it might plunge New York into the company of a body of regrettable decisions made by a number of other states. They worried that by forcing the state into quick action, it might hustle them into weakening the strict standards the state has developed for voting security.
A coalition of good government group fired off a letter to the board opposing full-faced touch screen voting machines, suggesting legal action if the board not heed their advice. These machines would show every race and candidate on one screen and directly record votes cast onto the machine. A number of states and counties have run into problems with similar machines and are now refusing to use the newly purchased machines.
State Senator Liz Kruger contacted county election officials around the state asking them not to use the machines and to opt instead for a system of paper ballots that are scanned by machines later for voting totals. “New York has been out of compliance with HAVA for good reason: the current lever voting machinesódespite their flawsóare far more reliable than the [direct recording electronic] voting machines that have given every other state headaches,” she said.
Not to worry, apparently. The counties
still have no machines to choose from can only choose from optical scanners.
The board has four members, two Democrats and two Republicans, who had the choice of multiple machines to choose from for certification – some touch screen machines, others paper based. But one Democratic member was absent due to illness, and at least one Republican reportedly refused to show up for a vote unless the Democrat chose to certify a touch screen machine made by a company named Liberty. A quorum could not be made without three members and the Democrat reportedly refused to approve the machine.By Mike Muller on January 24, 2008, 12:49 pm
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