Teresa Hommel



Statement before the Government Operations Committee

New York City Council, March 7, 2006


Cost of New Voting Machines


Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. My name is Teresa Hommel. I am Chairwoman of the Task Force on Election Integrity of Community Church of New York.


In the briefing[1] that I provide to Council Members on voting system technology, cost is a major issue.


Due to the superficial and shoddy quality of the voting system certification standards that our State Board of Elections has produced to date, I do not believe that any of the electronic voting systems that will be certified for use in our state will be likely to work in a trouble-free manner. However, IF we assume that all state-certified systems will work, then we should choose the most cost-effective equipment.


Regrettably, no governmental body including our own Board of Elections in the City of New York has produced an authoritative cost estimate for acquisition, transition, and continuing use of the different kinds of equipment that we are likely to be presented with.


Here is the history, which taken as a whole, is a red flag that something is wrong in our state and in our city.


March, 2005


False start -- NYC EVS Voting Machine Report, a draft by the Board of Elections in the City of New York to compare costs of different solutions to replacement of the lever voting machines.



Comments on the NYC EVS Voting Machine Report



June, 2005


Election Commissioners' Association (ECA) of the State of New York

A Review of Voting Machine Systems for the Replacement of the AVM in New York State



New Yorkers for Verified Voting

Critique and Corrections to the June 2005 ECA Report on Voting Technology



November, 2005


Teresa Hommel's 25 Cost Reports (five per borough), using poll site by poll site data from the NYC BOE, and the following replacement ratios

1 lever machine ΰ 1 full face DRE

1-5 lever machines ΰ 1 optical scanner, 1 accessible ballot marker, 1-5 privacy booths

1-4 lever machines ΰ 1 optical scanner, 1 accessible ballot marker, 1-4 privacy booths



These reports show that the cost of DREs will be two to three times more than the cost of paper ballot-optical scanner voting systems.


In the past the Board of Elections in the City of New York has asserted a need for $100 million for acquisition of new equipment. My reports show that this is the approximate cost of full-face Direct Recording Electronic (“DRE”) touchscreen or pushbutton voting systems IF we replace each lever machine with one full-face DRE.


February, 2006


Recent evaluation of the time required to vote on lever machines, full-face DREs with a voter-verified paper trail, and paper ballots with optical scanners, suggests that that the cost of full-face DREs may be twice the previous estimate.


1. New York City Election Day, 6 AM to 9 PM -- 15 hours, or 900 minutes


2. Time to vote on lever voting machine – 1.5 minutes

    Number of voters who can be served – 600


3. Time to vote on full-face DRE – 3 minutes

enter votes on full-face DRE – 1.5 minutes

verify paper printout before casting votes – 1.5 minutes

    Number of voters who can be served -- 300


4. Time to vote on paper ballots with precinct-based optical scanners

enter votes on paper ballot – relevant only to determination of how many tables or

privacy booths are needed

insert paper ballot into poll site optical scanner – ranges from 0 to 2 seconds[2]

    Number of voters who can be served – arbitrary estimate 4 per minute – 3600


5. Time for voter with disabilities or minority language to mark ballot using a ballot marking

    device – estimate of vendor (Automark) – 5 minutes

    Number of voters who can be served with one Automark -- 180




If our Board of Elections chooses DREs as our new voting equipment, we may be replacing each lever machine with two DREs. The total cost of this choice may be four to six times more than the cost of choosing paper ballots, precinct-based optical scanners and accessible ballot marking devices.


The cost of small paging DREs, should New York State eliminate the full-face requirement, will be more than this, due to the fact that it takes 10 to 25 minutes per voter to vote on them. Thus one machine may serve very few voters.


I urge this committee to require detailed and authoritative cost estimates from our Board of Elections, so that the public is satisfied that responsible planning and evaluations of our alternatives has been done.


I continue to be available to provide briefings to Council Members and your staff, and  I hope to work with you to meet the challenges that replacement of our lever voting machines is creating for our city.


Thank you.



[1] Documentation to support all factual assertions in my testimony may be found at www.wheresthepaper.org/ny.html   and    www.wheresthepaper.org/ChoosePBOS_notDREs.htm


[2] New Yorkers for Verified Voting, Optical Scan Survey Results http://www.nyvv.org/reports/OptScanSurvey.pdf