Bo Lipari report, June 21, 2005


Hello friends,


Legislation was introduced on Monday, June 20 for New York's HAVA machine implementation.  The big news is that New York has decided to grant ourselves an additional year to replace voting machines (except for a single accessible device per polling place). An initial newspaper report from the Times Union is here.


1) NYS HAVA legislation will call for voting machines with VVPB.  This is good, but not news. We've had commitments for a year and a half from both Senate and Assembly that they will require VVPB on any new equipment.


Still, when the legislation passes, NY will join other states requiring VVPB, and that's a good thing. We've been pushing further for adoption of optical scan, and that will remain a battle that will have to be fought at the individual county level, and a tough one at that.


1a) The Legislation calls for a mandatory, random, 3% recount of VVPT ballots in each county.


2) The legislation will require that there be one HAVA compliant accessible voting machine at each polling place.  The legislation leaves the door open to ballot markers, but we know many are fighting us on this. Those who don't like the Automark claim it does not meet our full face ballot requirement (obvious answer - the optical scan ballot is the ballot, and that's full face. The Automark is just a ballot marker).


3) Here's the unexpected part:


Except for a single accessible device, New York State is NOT GOING TO REPLACE OUR LEVER MACHINES by the 2006 elections. The position of our legislature is that providing the single accessible machine per polling place meets HAVA requirements, and will allow us to keep the allocated federal funds. This however, may not be so clear cut.


It is clear that New York State has decided to be the first state to choose NOT to meet HAVA compliance by 06, in affect granting ourselves our own waiver.


What will the federal government reaction be? That will be the interesting part. Possibilities range from the feds doing nothing (or no enforcement mechanism to do anything with), or they take NY to federal court for non-compliance, which potentially could wind up with a federal judge determining what equipment NY votes on.


If indeed NY decides to keep our lever machines, we are clearly not in Kansas anymore as far as HAVA goes. New York is the first state to test the waters of HAVA non-compliance.


As we still lack specifics of the bill, this could still be subject to change. It is still likely that counties will be able to choose new equipment if they want to. We still have a fight on our hands to make optical scan the choice rather than DREs. And for small voting districts with a single lever machine, like where I vote in Alpine, NY, the requirement for an accessible device effectively means replacement of the lever machine this year.