The Kingston Daily Freeman

Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 3:05 AM EDT


Lever voting machines touted in Woodstock





WOODSTOCK — Officials on Tuesday heard a round of support from audience members for a suggestion from Councilwoman Terrie Rosenblum that use of lever voting machines be allowed to continue.


The request was made during a Town Board meeting where Rosenblum read a proposed New York State Association of Towns resolution that contends there is more confidence that votes will be counted properly on lever machines, which have limited problems, than currently available electronic voting methods.


“For many decades New York state has successfully used mechanical lever-style machines with very few problems,” she said.


Rosenblum said the memorializing resolution asks the governor and federal officials to authorize continued use of lever machines.


Ulster County officials have announced plans to retire lever machines following elections this fall and begin using optical scanning devices with a paper printout for the 2010 ballots.


Woodstock last year was billed $41,467 for voting expenses by Ulster County for a 338.03 percent increase of $32,000.


Officials said the additional cost was due to federal Help America Vote Act requirements that are being reviewed to establish charges based on the number of voting machines used and the cost directly attributed to municipality.


Town Supervisor Jeff Moran, who is one of three town supervisors working with county lawmakers on changes to a 2005 resolution affecting voting cost, was supportive of changing the way county officials determine municipal charges.


“What we worked on with this committee ... is allocating costs as close as possible to what the towns actually use,” he said.


Moran said current lever machines may be kept for elections that are not for municipal officials.


“We could keep the lever machines for things like school board elections or fire department elections,” he said.


County officials earlier in the day reported that during 2008 elections there were 106 electronic machines set up for handicapped accessibility, but the machines were only used by 16 voters. Republican county Elections Commissioner Thomas Turco said there were no problems reported with those votes, but an effort by one non-handicapped person to use an electronic machine was unsuccessful and that vote was recorded using a lever booth.


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