March 11, 2006


State to buy devices to help disabled vote




ALBANY - State election officials, while still battling the federal government in court, are preparing to buy machinery that will allow people with disabilities to vote this fall, a Board of Elections spokesman said Friday.


Robert Brehm said the board has issued a request for bids, the first step to purchasing about 10,000 devices that will allow the disabled to cast ballots, a requirement under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 that was adopted after the disputed 2000 presidential election.


New York was sued March 1 by the Justice Department for failing to comply with requirements of the Help America Vote Act, which set deadlines for states to modernize their voting machines in time for this year's elections.


New York lags all other states in meeting the law's requirements.


Under the law, New York is supposed to replace its 20,000 lever-action voting machines with modern devices.


But state officials have said they will have to use the lever-action machines again this year and won't have new machines available in all parts of the state until the 2007 elections.


The federal lawsuit charges that New York has failed to provide for disabled voting and to compile a centralized voter registration database.


Under the state's current plan, Brehm said the idea is to have some sort of machinery in place to allow the disabled to vote without assistance in this year's state primaries in September and the general election in November. Brehm said the devices to allow the disabled to vote are estimated to cost up to $5,000 per machine.


The state is due in federal court Tuesday in Albany on the Justice Department lawsuit.


Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.



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