Marge Acosta


Testimony before the New York City Council

Governmental Operations Committee

April 24, 2006


Good Morning.  My name is Marge Acosta.  I reside in Suffolk County.


As an activist for paper ballots and optical scanners, I work with several organizations and am Coordinator of the Voting Booth Committee of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a chapter of Citizen Action of New York. 


I ‘m here today because New York City’s choice of voting machines will impact our whole state, and may control the choice made in Suffolk and Nassau. Resolution 131 will help us get the right equipment – paper ballots, optical scanners, and accessible ballot markers for voters with special needs.


Already this year, primaries throughout the United States have had disasters with electronic voting machines. Machines were freezing up and exploding. One Texas County registered 158,000 votes for only 58,000 voters. Thousands of defective memory cards were being delivered by vendors to counties. Given our legal choices, the responsible choice for New York is paper ballots and optical scanners so we can be sure that our votes will be recorded accurately.


Around our country, when counties with DRE failures threaten to withhold payments until the problems are resolved, vendors refuse to fix the equipment until they’re paid – threatening NOT to print ballots or program their machines for upcoming elections. New York counties should never put themselves in the position of relying on private corporations to run our elections.


Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice, which seems eager to enforce HAVA deadlines, has ignored these problems.


We also need Resolution 228. My mother used to say, “if it doesn’t work before you pay for it, it certainly won’t work afterward.” Our Election Commissioners should have the common sense to run Mock Elections before they sign a contract for purchase. Federal and state certification will NOT protect us – the equipment that failed in other states was certified!


I urge each member of this committee to sponsor and help pass these two resolutions as soon as possible. The other counties need New York City to provide guidance! Whatever influence the New York City Council has, we need it!  Thank you.