The New York Times

February 24, 2006


City's Lawyer Criticizes State on Rules for Voting Machines



ALBANY, Feb. 23 The state's plan to modernize its voting system came under attack again on Thursday, as New York City's chief lawyer called the proposal for regulations on voting machines "gravely defective" and urged the State Board of Elections to overhaul the plan.


The board is scheduled to discuss the proposed regulations on Monday. The rules will govern which voting machines the state certifies for this fall's elections.


In a letter to the four elections commissioners, Michael A. Cardozo, who as corporation counsel heads the city's Law Department, said the latest state proposals ignored major concerns of the city, including recommendations for more security tests and more training procedures.


If the state does not ensure a smooth transition to the new machines, there could be a "waste of millions of state and local dollars and, worst of all, the catastrophic breakdown of an election may ensue," he wrote.


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed Mr. Cardozo as chairman of a nine-member task force formed to recommend ways to improve the city's election system, which was criticized in the 2004 election.


New York State has long lagged behind the rest of the country in efforts to comply with new requirements under the Help America Vote Act. Last month, the federal Department of Justice threatened a lawsuit if the state did not comply.


But Mr. Cardozo said that railroading the proposed regulations through would only create more problems for the state. "I am horrified that this delay has led to potentially put security, functioning and training for the workers at risk," he said in an interview.


Mr. Cardozo and John Ravitz, the executive director of the City Board of Elections, have both asked to meet with state officials on the matter.


Mr. Ravitz planned to submit a letter on Friday asking the state board to include more extensive security tests and to clarify the procedures the state will use to reach contracts with voting machine manufacturers.


A spokesman for the State Board of Elections, Robert Brehm, said that he could not comment on Mr. Cardozo's letter but that the board would consider the recommendation before it votes on the regulations.


Copyright 2006The New York Times Company



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