January 29, 2007
My name is Debra Cooper. I am the Democratic State Committeewoman from the 67thAD.
I want to thank you for having this hearing. It is important to hear the voice of the public.
I am here to support the use of paper ballots with optical scanners, and to urge you to pass Resolution 131. My reasons are not just because paper ballots are safer but also because they are a faster way to vote. I went to the see the demonstrations at Hostos Community College in the Bronx in November, 2006.
I observed when I used the 2 DRE machines at Hostos that they were very error prone in terms making a selection…I would hit one name to only see another light up. This happened more than once. Second in terms of time, they were far too time consuming compared to our present lever machines or paper ballots. It was very demanding to keep going back and forth to check whether the names and offices on the machine actually matched on the paper printout way off to the side. These machines would add I would estimate almost 3 times as much time to cast a ballot as now. Too much time and long lines cause delay and deprive people of the right to vote.
In 1996, a presidential year with large turnout, I was the head of the Women’s Desk of the 1996 Clinton Gore campaign in NY and was assigned to supervise a large disrtict in Brooklyn. Due to an uncooperative principal there were very long lines in one polling place. At 5PM there were hundreds of people in line. At 7PM there were even more. Then a number of the machines broke. We had to hand out paper ballots. Within 20-30 minutes the lines were gone. People took their paper ballots and voted quickly and happily. Yes we had to count our ballots later by hand. It took longer to count but less time to vote. Elections are not about getting the tallies quickly to the newscast but about accurately expressing the will of the people. Paper ballots woth optical scanners serve democracy better.
I know the DRE’s seem like nifty gadgets and some folks just love nifty gadgets. But sometimes we have to realize that there are fads in technology. If you had college age children, you would know that in the mid 90’s the College Board which administers the Graduate Record Exam, the GRE’s mandated that they be done on computers. It seemed to have so many benefits. Well this is the last year they will be given by computer; next year they go back to old fashioned paper and pencil. Which by the way are graded on optical scanners. Why are they going back to paper???…..because of security reasons. So let’s learn something from them and not trust our democracy to untrustworthy technology.