Bo Lipari report, 4/8/05


Here's an update on where we stand in our fight for adoption of paper ballots and optical scanners as our voting equipment in NY, and an overview of what we need to do in the next few weeks as we approach a decision on voting equipment.







The first phase of our campaign for PBOS has been an overwhelming success. In just a few months, we've gone from hardly being on the radar to being actively talked about as THE alternative to DREs. We've won a great deal of support for PBOS among legislators and the media, and our support is continuing to grow. That's the good news.


But for all we've accomplished, there still is powerful opposition to the adoption of paper ballots/optical scan in NY.


The voting machine vendors who are pushing their high-priced, poor performing DREs are ramping up their lobbying efforts and spreading disinformation about the optical scan alternative to state and county legislators and election officials. These powerful interests thought they had DREs sold to NYS and they are not happy that citizen efforts have won the paper ballot alternative incredible support in a such short time. They are not going to give up easily. The more successful we are, the more they will apply pressure behind the scenes for DREs.


We've accomplished a lot, but we still have a lot to do. In the weeks ahead, we are going to have to continue to talk to legislators, especially Senators, to endorse PBOS. The State Board of Elections, local county legislators and election officials must also be contacted and fully informed about the benefits of optical scan and the danger, problems, and huge expense of DREs.


Over the next few weeks, here's what we'll need to do:


1) Continue contacting state legislators, especially focusing on Senators, to support PBOS. We want the Assembly to pass bill A6503 which calls for adoption of optical scan, and the Senate to introduce and pass a companion bill.


2) Continue getting our PBOS message into the media - Op-Ed pieces, letters to the editor, setting up meeting with editorial boards.


3) Reach out to county officials - set up meetings and presentations about the PBOS alternative with county legislators, executives and committees.


More details below.


-Bo Lipari




HAVA Conference Committee



The HAVA conference committee held several public meetings last month in which agreement was announced on administrative complaint procedure, the statewide database, and county consolidation issues. 


The outstanding issues are poll site access, voting machines and verification of voter identity. The conference committee has received an extension and will hold the next meeting on Monday (4/11) or Tuesday (4/12).


Although there is now strong support among many legislators for paper ballot/optical scan (PBOS) as NY's choice of voting equipment, it still seems unlikely that the HAVA conference committee will agree on legislation that requires PBOS and excludes DREs. If the final legislation is open to both alternatives, that means the choice of equipment will rest with the State Board of Elections. 




Build Senate Support for PBOS - Introduce companion bill to A6503



Last month Assemblywomen Sandy Galef and Barbara Lifton introduced bill A6503, calling for adoption of paper ballot/optical scan systems in New York State. There are currently 20 cosponsors of the bill. You can find the bill summary, cosponsor list and a link to the text here:


If the HAVA conference committee does not require paper ballot/optical scan in it's final legislation, passage of A6503 and an equivalent Senate bill will be the only legislative route we have to adoption of PBOS. There is currently no companion bill in the Senate, and we need to build support among the Senate for introduction and passage of a companion bill to A6503.


Contact your state Senator and tell them you support Paper Ballots for NY!




State Board of Elections



If the legislature passes HAVA legislation allowing for both DREs and paper ballot/optical scan, it will fall to the State BOE to decide which machines to certify in New York. We're going to need very strong pressure from citizens and counties on the four election commissioners and deputy Director Peter Kosinski to ensure that optical scanners are a choice.


We have begun making contact and meeting with state BOE officials. Depending on what happens in the legislature and when, we will be organizing alerts and demonstrations at the state BOE in support of paper ballots and optical scan. Stay tuned.







It is quite possible that the outcome of our efforts will be that individual counties will get to choose between a DRE or an optical scan system.


We need to begin getting the counties on our side in support of adoption to PBOS. We've already begun doing presentations to county legislators, executives, and budget committees around the state. We must make county officials understand that adopting DREs is essentially an UNFUNDED MANDATE TO THE COUNTIES.


NYVV is developing acquisition and maintenance cost projections and other materials which show the huge additional cost and problems associated with DREs. Many county officials are skeptical of touch screen voting and we need to educate them and provide them with facts that they do not hear from DRE vendors.


The counties, if they can be won over to support PBOS, will be effective in influencing the equipment that the state BOE certifies, and may force them to allow a PBOS system as well as DREs. If that happens, then we must have the counties educated enough to choose PBOS.


It is vital to begin work NOW at the county level to educate county legislators and election officials about why paper ballot optical scan is the superior choice. We need citizens in each county willing to help us set up meetings and presentations with county officials.