New York Daily News -


State facing elex 'chaos'




Friday, March 11th, 2005


Get off the dime, Albany - or New York voters will face "total chaos" in next year's elections.


That was the blunt message Mayor Bloomberg's election task force sent the state Legislature yesterday.


The bipartisan panel urged Albany to swiftly comply with a federal mandate to switch to computerized voting machines for the 2006 elections.


"If the state Legislature does not act within the month, New York State faces the real prospect of losing $220 million in federal funds to buy new voting machines," said the panel's head, Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo.


"And equally significant, the New York City election in 2006 could be more chaotic than the Florida [presidential] election in the year 2000," he added at a City Hall press conference with other members of the Election Modernization Task Force.


Albany legislators failed over the past two years to meet requirements of the Help America Vote Act. A new effort is now underway.


New York is the only state that has yet to pass enabling legislation specifying how the conversion to electronic machines will be conducted. Albany insiders blame a political power fight between the Senate and Assembly.


"This should be the time that we're talking about good government, not good politics," said Peter Vallone Sr., a task force member and former City Council speaker.


The Help America Vote Act was enacted in the aftermath of the bungled Florida presidential vote. It mandates modernized voting throughout the country, with the help of $2.3 billion in federal aid.


By complying with the Help America Vote Act, New York stands to receive $220million of that money to share with local governments. Much of it would come to the city, which has 42% of the voters.


The city has to replace more than 7,000 mechanical voting machines - with or without the help of federal funds.


"We'll be in violation of federal law if this is not done," said Cardozo.


He said the conversion will require time for extensive technical preparations, as well as training of workers and poll watchers and voter education.


Bloomberg also urged quick Albany action, saying, "Further delay by the state will make it extremely difficult for the Board of Elections to prepare for the 2006 election."


This year's elections, including the contest for mayor, are not affected.


All contents 2005 Daily News, L.P.




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