September 26, 2007
To the Editor:
It has been five years since the Help America Vote Act passed as a federal law. HAVA required states to replace old voting machines with new voting equipment that will be accessible to voters with disabilities and voters who speak other languages.
The implementation was left up to the states. When it comes to voting machines, our state officials have been practicing a wait-and-see approach from the get-go, despite strong urging by the disability community and advocates for voting integrity.
The state officials passed the responsibility of purchasing the new voting machines to the local boards of election without providing any guidelines or choices of certified new voting equipment, resulting in years of delay. In addition, the state recently sought another federal extension for the implementation of HAVA, this time until 2010!
This effort failed, thanks to a statewide outcry by the disability community. In the meantime, voters with disabilities who have difficulty with, or are unable to use pull-lever machines, continue being denied a private and independent vote at polling places due to lack of access of the existing voting machines.
Any uncertified equipment carries a risk of being inaccessible and unreliable.
I urge the state Board of Elections to immediately convene a task force, consisting of voting machine experts, members of the disability community and voting integrity advocates, and start the certification process now, without a further delay!