The Post-Standard,


County to U.S.: Let N.Y. fix voting system


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

By Alaina Potrikus

Staff writer


Madison County leaders have decided to tell the state and federal government where they stand when it comes to replacing voting machines to comply with the Help America Vote Act.


After hearing that the federal Justice Department might force the state to switch to a new voting system that is accessible for people with disabilities before the 2008 general election, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Tuesday asking the federal government to step out of the process and urging the state Board of Elections to step up its pace.


The path to implementing a new voting system in New York has been mired with delays at the state level, which have trickled down to county governments paralyzed in selecting and purchasing new machines, as well as training election workers on how to use a new system.


Although the state board has yet to certify that any machines meet its standards and regulations, the Department of Justice has filed a suit against New York state that calls for full HAVA compliance by next November.


Madison County's resolution, which will be sent to state and federal officials, urges the justice department to allow New York state "to make an informed rather than hasty decision on certification of voting machines." It also asks Gov. Eliot Spitzer to appoint a new state Board of Elections if the current group cannot come to an agreement by early December. The resolution also states that Madison County supervisors favor an optical scanner voting system over touch-screen computer models.


Hamilton resident Wanda Warren Berry, who has been lobbying with New Yorkers for Verified Voting for the optical scanner system and its paper ballots, said she was encouraged by the board's decision.


"What you did in taking a stand is very important," she said to supervisors during the board's public comment period. "Let's hope they get the message, but at least we now have our own message straight."


In other board business:


No residents turned out to the 9:20 a.m. public hearing on the county's proposed $104.76 million budget.