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03/05/2009 12:17 AM


NY Still Lagging In Voting Machine Upgrades

By: Michael Scotto


The city's board of elections held a hearing in Lower Manhattan Wednesday night to address the federal government's mandate of upgrading voting machines before the next election cycle. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.


The conversation has been going on for years. At the city Board of Elections, a hearing was held on the two computer voting machines the city hopes to choose between in the coming months.


"We have to educate the public on the new machines, the differences that exist," said New York City Board of Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco.


To say New York is well behind in selecting machines to replace the old lever ones is an understatement. New York is the only state that has not complied with the federal government's Help America Vote Act. That's due in part to the failure of the federal government and Albany to certify the machines they want local governments to purchase.


After years of missteps, the hope is to select machines in time for the upcoming mayoral election, but even that goal is looking overly ambitious.


"The longer we wait until the September primary, the more difficult it is going to be to not only implement the machines all over New York City, but to train the poll workers and educate the public and give the public confidence that they can trust the democratic process with these machines," said Polanco.


Many people at the hearing wish the state would just keep the old machines, saying new ones open up the door to voter fraud.


"Once you allow software, which we know is undetectably mutable to count the votes, then we have no idea how our votes are counted. But we can see on the lever machine," said Andrea Novick, Election Transparency Coalition.


"I think it's a lot easier to keep the lever machines," said Howard Stanislevic, eVoter Education Project.


At this point, it looks like voters will be pulling those levers for yet another round of elections unless Albany can make up its mind.