FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2009
A state Board of Elections official gave high marks Tuesday to the digital voting systems that replaced traditional lever machines in 20 counties this Election Day.
Anna E. Svizzero, elections operation director, said the state's pilot program - which also included 28 counties that used a blend of new voting systems and old lever machines - "was very successful."
"We did encounter some issues with voting machine failures," she told the state's Board of Commissioners in Albany. "(But) we certainly have more lever machine problems than BMD (ballot marking device) or scanner issues."
The state is transitioning from lever machines to new handicapped-accessible voting systems to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act.
The director said Dominion machines in Lewis, Seneca and Schuyler failed - but "it wasn't countywide. It was a handful of machines within those counties. It wasn't seen as a catastophic failure."
She said the primary cause of voting machine failure was a memory issue related to the way ballots were programmed to record multiple votes for one office.
"If the test votes were cast in a certain way, the machine would freeze up and it would not permit you to move forward," she said. "So there were no votes calculated on the voting machines and those ballots were the ones that had to be hand counted. In reviewing the county board ballot styles, the vendor located the 10 counties where that change had to be made and it was made prior to Election Day. But, in that it was humans reviewing those ballots, there were a couple of those ballot styles that were missed. So, in the field on Election Day, the problem did arise. The scanner did freeze up.”
Ms. Svizzero said in all instances where the scanner froze, the ballots were hand counted.
"That's certainly one of the assets of the paper ballot - that there will never be a vote that's lost," she said.
Ms. Svizzero said all other issues were related to "paper jams and inexperience with the system and that those issues will be overcome with more time."
The director reported no issues with ES&S voting machines, which were used by Albany, Schenectady and Erie counties' voters.
Watch Ms. Svizzero's full report here, starting at the 13:56 mark.