Leonard Peters


Hearing by the Government Operations Committee and Technology in Government Committee of the New York City Council, January 29, 2007


Statement in Support of Resolution 131:

New York City Doesnít Have the Time for DREís


New Yorkers are busy people who donít like to wait on lines. Perhaps thatís why there is a Starbucks and drug store at every corner. If there is a line, we keep walking.


An independent study commissioned by the State Board of Elections, known as the AIR Study, measured how long it takes to vote on a DRE and an Optical Scan system. The study found that it took about 4 minutes to vote on a Sequoia and Avante DRE and about 30 seconds to insert a ballot into an Optical Scanner including listening to a speech on whether or not the test voter wanted to override the undervote notification.


If you do the math, it comes out that Avante or Sequoia DREs can accommodate between 207 and 247 people per machine per day. Thatís between 14 and 16 people per hour, not counting people who may take a little longer due to lack of experience with computers, disabilities, etc., and hold up the line.


The Diebold Optical Scan and ES&S OpScan machines can handle between 1,588 and 2,571 people per day. That is between 106 and 171 per hour, again without counting voters who take a little longer.


What this means is that the OpScan machines can handle 2 people per minute while the DREís take 4 minutes for one voter. Duane Reade would be out of business if its lines took 8 times longer than its competitorsí lines. New Yorkers may plan to come back later when itís not so crowded because itís pretty easy for us to get around, but people in other areas who drive to their polling site may not have time to come back later. Hourly workers may not be able to afford to come back later, having already missed time at work.Long lines result in disenfranchisement.


What about the cost of equipment? If there are 100 people in my building and we all go to vote between 8am and 9am on election day, how many voting machines would the school next door need in order to serve us without a long wait? With one OpScan machine, at the cost of about $11,000 for the scanner and accessible ballot marking device, all of us could vote in 50 minutes.It would take six or seven DREís at the cost of $8,000 to $10,000 each to provide the same service.


The bottom line: OpScan machines provide better service. Because they can serve more voters per hour, fewer machines are needed, which cuts the cost of buying, transporting, storing, and maintaining the machines.


Please pass Resolution 131 out of committee and recommend it for passage by the entire City Council. It is time for the City Councilís voice to be heard. Thank you.