Premature switch


11/19/2007 - Green against federal voting machine change



OBSERVER Mayville Bureau


MAYVILLE — The change to new electronic voting machines will be seen statewide in the future.


An electronic voting machine. Chautauqua County Democratic Election Commissioner Norman P. Green, who is also the state Election Commissioners Association president, is expressing concerns over the rush to get new machines and phase out the old ones.


However, the county Democratic election commissioner is concerned the federal government might rush implementing new voting machine technology throughout the state in 2008.


Norm Green, county Democratic election commissioner and state Election Commissioners Association president, said the U.S. Justice Department is determined to have every county in the state in compliance with the federal Help American Vote Act for all 2008 elections. Green said if planned steps are taking carefully in changing voting machine technology, total voting chaos could be seen throughout the state.


‘‘The election professionals at each county board in New York State are committed to full HAVA compliance,’’ Green said. ‘‘However, we will not stand by idly and allow for any meltdown of voting in 2008. Our group will remain strong and vigilant in our duties and will honor our oath of office to obey the laws of New York State and the United States of America.’’


Green said the Election Commissioners Association met last week to discuss the federal government’s insistence for new voting machine technology to be in use by next year’s elections. He said the group’s officers will be working on drafting a plan of action next month, prior to a federal motion to be heard in Albany to discuss fully implementing HAVA regulations for next year’s elections.


‘‘I can not express how serious the potential financial and electoral consequences are for the counties of New York State,’’ Green said. ‘‘This is serious.’’


Federal officials sued New York in 2006 because it was one of the slowest states in the nation to comply with HAVA provisions, which were adopted after the disputed 2000 presidential election. HAVA was designed to get states to replace their traditional voting systems with modern machinery. The plan was to have everything in place for the 2006 elections at the latest.


Electronic voting machines were supposed to be in place by now throughout the state, but due to delays by the state Board of Elections, electronic voting machines have not been certified. In August, Gov. Eliot Spitzer even had to pass a special law to allow the continued use of traditional voting machines because a 2005 law had made them illegal to use for this year’s fall elections.


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