Monday, April 24, 2006

NY City Council Government Operations Committee

Hearing on Resolutions 131 and 228


Phyllis Andrews


The Big Divide


My name is Phyllis Andrews. I am a member of the Task Force on Election Integrity of Community Church of New York. Thank you for holding this hearing on Resolutions 131 and 228, so that the public can speak on the subject of our new voting technology. I urge each of you to sponsor these resolutions and work for their speedy passage.


A weird thing happens when you mention electronic voting. Most people say, “Yeah! The head of Diebold said he would deliver the state of Ohio to Bush.” Far too many people say, “Yeah! You can’t trust it. Why bother voting at all?”


But what do public officials say? Most of our upstate election commissioners say they can’t wait to get them. In New York City most of our commissioners are more cagey, and don’t say which way they are leaning. But Executive Director Ravitz’ remarks tend to slant toward electronic voting, whether he is asserting what the cost would be, or that the same amount of training would be required for both technologies.


There seems to be a big divide. On one side you have ordinary people who know about the failures of electronic voting, and the many reasons against using it. On the other side you have most of the county election commissioners in New York State, who listen only to vendors, refuse to meet with activists who support paper ballot/optical scan technology, and refuse to inform themselves by reading the web sites that carry news on this issue:,,,, and here in New York, which is New Yorkers for Verified Voting.


According to law, our county election commissioners have no obligation to listen to the people. They only have to listen to their County Leader who designated them. But these commissioners are the people who will choose our new election equipment, and I believe there is a moral or patriotic obligation to listen to all sides and to become informed before making decisions that affect the foundation of our democracy and the legitimacy of our government.


It seems like “the people” don’t have an effective voice at this time. But you are our representatives, and your voice is louder than ours. You also have budgetary oversight of the Board of Elections.


This is why these two resolutions are so important. They are only resolutions, but they speak for us. Without them we would have just about no voice at all.


Thank you.