Friday, May 06, 2005
After months of wheeling and dealing, state legislators still haven't agreed on a fundamental issue at the heart of election reform in New York: What type of machine will voters use to cast ballots?
That and a few other matters have kept New York from fully complying with the federal Help America Vote Act. This law calls for a top-to-bottom overhaul of all states' electoral systems. But the dilly-dallying in Albany has left New York the only state to yet meet all of the law's requirements. If legislators don't get their act together soon, the state could lose $220 million in federal funding.
The nation's largest voting-machine vendors, of course, have been more than happy to help legislators make their decision. Since 2002, they've spent nearly $1.2 million on politically connected lobbyists to make their cases.
The companies are pushing touch-screen electronic voting machines. But these machines have proven unreliable and vulnerable to manipulation. Many communities that invested heavily in the expensive devices now regret their decisions and are considering switching to simpler scanner-readable paper ballots.
That is the direction New York should go. Nearly a third of American voters already cast paper ballots read by optical scanners. The technology is secure. It's accurate. It's accessible. It's verifiable. And it's cost-effective. Claims by some that the printing and storing of paper ballots make optical scanning the more expensive option seem overstated.
All New Yorkers should urge their legislators to adopt this sensible system statewide.
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