Staten Island Advance
November 8, 2005
Section: A, Page A09
Reform coalition gives support to optical-scan system for voting
Devices, which read paper ballots, are preferable to touch-screen machines, group contends
By Michael Scholl
ADVANCE CITY HALL BUREAU
The voting machines that thousands of Staten Islanders will use in today's
election should be replaced by an optical system that scans paper ballots, a
coalition of election reform groups said yesterday.
New Yorkers for Verified Voting and the New York League of Women Voters say
optical-scan voting machines are less vulnerable to fraud than the ATM-style
"touch screen" electronic voting machines that are also on the market.
"Voting machines are the basic building block of our democratic process and
we must insist they be reliable and their results verifiable and
transparent," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), who joined officials
from the two reform groups and their supporters at a news conference
yesterday in front of City Hall.
A state law approved in late June requires the city Board of Elections and
other local election boards across the state to replace their aging
"lever-action" mechanical voting machines with more modern devices.
The law allows the boards to choose either an optical-scan system, which
requires voters to fill out paper ballots, or a touch-screen system in which
voters record their votes electronically by touching a computer screen or by
pressing a button on a keyboard.
The city Board of Elections has yet to decide between the two kinds of
Supporters of optical-scan systems say the paper ballots used in such
systems create a "paper trail" that can be audited after an election to make
sure reported results are accurate. They say touch-screen computer systems
cannot be easily audited and are therefore highly vulnerable to computer
"hackers" who could seek to manipulate results.
Optical-scan machines are also cheaper and easier to operate than the
touch-screen variety, according to Susan Greenhalgh of New Yorkers for
"We want New York to have a choice and to make the right choice," said Ms.
Greenhalgh, who accused the manufacturers of touch-screen machines of
engaging in an intense lobbying campaign in an effort to get local election
boards to buy their products.
The state law requiring the elimination of mechanical voting machines was
passed in response to the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which
Congress approved in 2002 to address the issues raised by the 2000
presidential election debacle in Florida.
New York State is slated to receive $221 million in HAVA funding to help
improve its election process, but it could lose some of that federal money
if it does not replace its voting machines in time for next year's primary
elections. Compliance with that deadline is unlikely because the replacement
process has been beset by delays.
©2005 SILive.com. All Rights Reserved.
FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.