Bo Lipari report, 5/11/05


Legislature to allow counties to select voting machines



Yesterday, the HAVA conference committee made clear that they have decided to allow individual counties to choose their own voting equipment to replace existing lever machines.


The legislature has ignored newspapers who have all editorialized in favor of optical-scan and against paperless voting. The legislature has ignored all of the evidence of problems with touch screen/pushbutton DRE voting systems. The legislature is going to let each county decide for themselves after being deluged by voting machine vendors and their lobbyists.


We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to get paper ballots and precinct-based optical scanners in each of New York's 62 counties. Not only do we have to educate county legislators and executives and local election officials, but we will have to ensure that the state Board of Elections allows optical scanners as a possible choice, which is not necessarily a given.


The fact that we have gotten paper ballots and optical scan technology on the table here in New York is a testament to the hard work of thousands of citizens who have worked extremely hard on this effort. Please recall, just four months ago the state was poised to adopt DREs without any alternative.  Our work has forced the legislature to at least allow for the optical scan option. This is a big step from where we were just a short time ago, and all of you who helped out should be proud of this success.


We did remarkably well, but now we have an even harder job ahead of us. We are going to need everyone's help in this as we take the Paper Ballots for New York campaign to the local level, to the state Board of Elections, and as we pursue new legislation requiring state wide adoption of optical scan.


We have worked very hard to get to this point. It's not the outcome we would have preferred from the HAVA conference committee, but we are not out of the game yet.


We've got work to do folks. I hope you will join me in the next phase of our struggle!


- Bo Lipari




State ready to let counties select their own voting machines

Yancey Roy

Albany Bureau


May 11, 2005


Albany-Key politicians yesterday all but killed the idea of selecting one uniform voting machine for New York State, a move good-government groups lambasted as potentially setting the stage for a Florida-2000-style election fiasco.


A legislative panel acknowledged it was poised to let each county select its preferred type of voting machines rather than the state.


Backers, mostly from the Republican-led Senate, say it puts the power in the hands of local officials who are in tune with local preferences.


Critics said it undermines the major goal of the Help America Vote Act, which Congress imposed on states as a way to prevent the type of election upheaval in the disputed 200 presidential contest.


Instead, New York is setting itself up for similar problems, said officials from Common Cause and the League of Women Voters.


Using different machines from county to county "is what Florida was all about," said Barbara Bartoletti of the LWV.


"I think they're on the verge of making a big mistake," Bartoletti said.  She conceived a scenario in which a state Senate election, covering multiple counties, triggers a recount and falls into chaos because the counties use different machines with disputes over how to verify votes.


"You won't know if Mr Smith won or Mr. Brown won," Bartoletti said.


She added that a joint Senate-Assembly panel that was supposed to make the decision on voting machines was "failing to meet if not the spirit, then the letter of" the election-overhaul law.


As New York moves to replace its 22,000 or so lever-style mechanical machines, two types of replacements have emerged as leading contenders: a touch screen electronic device that largely resembles current machines and a pencil-and-paper system with an electronic scanner.