Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Voting activists took the state Board of Elections to task recently for what they called woefully inadequate proposed regulations for new voting machines.
The League of Women Voters and New Yorkers for Verified Voting claim the regulations would let new machine manufacturers apply their own testing standards.
Federal law requires New York to replace its lever-style voting machines before the federal 2006 elections.
To comply, the state adopted its own law giving elections commissioners in each county a choice between electronic touch-screen machines and optical scanners that read paper ballots.
The league and the verified voting group favor the optical scanners and claimed during testimony at a board-sponsored public hearing in Albany last Friday that the proposed regulations are tilted in favor of the touch-screen machines.
The league'sAimee Allaud said the regulations would give machine vendors most of whom have pushed the touch-screen devices the power to determine what information to provide to satisfy performance standards.
The vendors could waive state machine testing requirements if they submit reports that verify performance "in a manner equivalent to the board's examination requirements."
"Government, not vendors, must be in control of our system of voting," she said.
She also said the regulations require notification of machine testing only to political parties and candidates.
"What about citizens?" Allaud asked. "Shame on the board for not recognizing that their first responsibility is to the citizens of New York state."
Bo Lipari, a retired software engineer who heads up New Yorkers for Verified Voting, said that "with lax standards such as these, a vendor could force New York state to certify their machine, as has happened in the past."
The first public hearing on the proposed regulations was Dec. 13 in Rochester; another took place Tuesday in New York City and one more is scheduled in Putnam County Jan. 12.
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Erik Kriss' Albany Notebook appears Sunday and Wednesday in The Post-Standard. He can be reached at (518) 463-8038 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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