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Sunday, December 04, 2005

ERIK KRISS

ALBANY NOTEBOOK

[Two sections on other topics omitted here ]

Let the battle begin

 

The clock will officially start to tick on a 45-day public comment period for proposed new voting machine regulations when they're published in the State Register Wednesday.

 

Already, advocates for replacing New York's lever machines with "optical scan" paper ballot readers are blasting the rules proposed by the state Board of Elections.

 

"As they stand, we find them to be extremely poor," said Bo Lipari, head of the group New Yorkers for Verified Voting.

 

With a federal law requiring states to install new machines for the 2006 elections, many manufacturers are promoting electronic touch-screen devices - and most county election officials in Central New York intend to go that route.

 

But Lipari, the League of Women Voters and other groups maintain the touch screens are more expensive and error-prone than optical scanners.

 

The new rules hold optical scan systems to higher testing standards than touch screens, Lipari said. And he said there's no requirement that a vendor who submits a touch screen and also makes a scanner should submit a scanner, too.

 

Board spokesman Lee Daghlian said Lipari is "complaining to the wrong people. The regulations as written reflect what's in the statute, no more, no less. If the requirements in the statute aren't good enough, they should be lobbying their elected officials to change the law."

 

The Board of Elections is planning public hearings on the voting machine regulations Dec. 13 in Rochester, Dec. 16 in Albany and Dec. 20 in New York City.

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