Put polling machines to a vote
By Bill Hammond, a columnist for the New York Daily News.
With the state facing a federal deadline to modernize its polling booths, the manufacturers are touting ATM-like machines with push-buttons and "touch screens." These devices are easy to use and 100% accurate - if you trust them, that is.
They run on software that's vulnerable to glitches, and the only paper record is generated by the machines themselves. Critics call them black boxes because voters have no way to know whether the machine has correctly tallied their choices.
The low-tech alternative is to use paper ballots - which voters fill out, SAT-style, with a No. 2 pencil - and count them with optical scanners. If these machines screw up, officials can always count the original ballots by hand.
cost about $5,000 a pop, about $3,000 less than a touch-screen machine. Since
All the major companies offer both types of equipment, and they deny promoting one technology over another. But they mysteriously avoid making the cheaper equipment available for inspection. At the Capitol recently, a lobbyist managed to shut down a demonstration of optical scanning by getting his client to pull its machine from the display.
Sandra Galef of
"I said, 'We are?'" Galef recalled. "I'm a legislator. I don't think I've voted on anything."
are the vendors deciding what type of state
The danger is that the small army of lobbyists working this issue, who collected almost $1 million in fees last year, will succeed in wagging the dog - and win their clients much fatter contracts.
manufacturer, Sequoia Voting Systems, finally let its optical scan machine see
the light of day yesterday at a demonstration in
Stuff: Attorney General Eliot Spitzer inched out of the closet on the Campaign
for Fiscal Equity lawsuit during an online chat this weekend. In court, the
state's chief lawyer has argued that the schools already have plenty of money.
But the Dem candidate for Gov. Pataki's seat now says, "We will have to increase
the level of spending overall to ensure that every student gets access to the
type of education that we want for our children." ...Health care union
leader Dennis Rivera must not be very optimistic about the chances of an
on-time state budget. His union has scheduled a major pro-Medicaid rally in
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