Overview - New voting machines for NYC?


1.  The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires one accessible voting device per pollsite so voters with

     disabilities can vote independently without anyone directly assisting them and seeing their votes.


2. NY law bans lever machines as of 9/1/07, requires each county & NYC to choose new equipment:

·        PBOS -- paper ballots to be marked by hand (or by ballot-marking devices for voters with disabilities or minority languages), and optical scanner machines in each polling place to check each ballot for correctness before it is cast and to print a tally at the end of the election day.

·        DREs -- “Direct Recording Electronic” computer voting machines with a touchscreen, and a printer to print a receipt-like list of each voter’s choices for voters to verify before pressing “Cast My Ballot.” The printout then stays in a locked box inside the machine. NY law requires a voter-verifiable paper trail, but does not require paper tallies to match electronic tallies; only 3% of the paper will be spot-checked.


3. First: the State Board of Elections must certify new systems. Their current schedule says the list of

    certified systems will be ready in May. Then counties & NYC must select new equipment immediately.


4. In each county and in NYC, the County Election Commissioners will vote on what new equipment

    to select. They are now studying the machines submitted to NYS for certification.


5. Contenders for NY state business as of 2/16/07:  2 OpScans and 3 DREs


6. Problems:

a. US Dept of Justice lawsuit against NYS in March, 2006: NY state settled it by promising to have new

    equipment in place by 2007.

b. Summit Meeting, Dec. 18, 2006, State Board of Elections and vendors: State Board said (1) all systems

    submitted for NYS certification have failed some tests, (2) all vendors are still submitting new software,

    forcing testing to begin all over again each time, and (3) no system fully complies with NYS requirements.

c. Ciber Testing Lab Scandal: Revealed by the NY Times, 1/4/07: Ciber, the federal lab hired by NY State to

    test equipment, is not itself certified by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC). After Ciber

    and the EAC refused to give NY any info, NY threatened legal action. New documents show that Ciber

    may not have done much testing prior to certifying more than 70% of evoting machines in the USA.

d. Ciber’s NY State contract: not canceled yet as of 2/6/07, but all testing has stopped.

e. New equipment for elections this year: unlikely because there is not enough time left.

f. New target is 2009. The state association of county election commissioners voted in Jan. 2007 to work for

    implementation of new systems in 2009 to avoid chaos in 2008’s big-turnout presidential election.


7. The national trend is from DREs to OpScan due to DRE malfunctions (lost votes, vote switching on the

    screen, computer crashes, failure to boot up), huge cost overruns, voter distrust, and many lawsuits.


8. NYC: NYC BOE hearing, 1/23/07 – 60 of 65 speakers advocated PBOS. City Council committee hearing

    on Resolution 131 which urges adoption of PBOS, 1/29/07 – not one of 25 speakers advocated DREs.


9. February, 2007: What can organizations and local government bodies do?

1. One-on-one or small-group briefings for leadership; big training sessions for members or staff.

2. Take a position, via resolution or other method, to influence:

    a. Democratic and Republican county leaders & election commissioners in each county

    b. NYC: Pass City Council Resolution 131, which urges adoption of PBOS.


10. Computers are honest and dishonest, competent and error-prone, just like the people who make and use them. International election standards are based on observation of voting, vote handling and counting -- not trust in computers.


Material prepared by www.wheresthepaper.org

More Info:  www.wheresthepaper.org    www.nyvv.org    www.lwvny.org    www.votersunite.org    www.votetrustus.org