Teresa Hommel


Chairwoman, Task Force on Election Integrity,

Community Church of New York


Statement before the Commissioners of the Board of Elections in New York City

January 23, 2007



Thank you for open process! I am proud that the Board of Elections in the City of New York has held five public demonstrations of new voting equipment. In addition you have posted information from vendors on your web site. You have held two hearings. You are intending to allow the public to observe some deliberations concerning vendor information. You have set a high standard of openness for other jurisdictions to follow.


In addition to these measures, I urge you to make available to the public a brief, complete and comprehensive cost analysis, perhaps one page for each system under consideration. The objective would be to enable the public to easily understand ALL the costs of each new system, including immediate and continuing or recurring costs. 


Good decisions are often based on information from many sources. As you go through the process of deciding what new voting systems to select, I urge you, again, to read the Daily Voting News from VotersUnite.org and the weekly Election Integrity News from VoteTrustUSA.org. I have urged you to do this several times already, but I don’t believe all the Commissioners have taken a look at these two well-respected sources.


Sometimes I feel like the bearer of bad news, but if you were reading the same sources I read, I wouldn’t have to act as a messenger.


Insider tampering is a common problem with computer systems. The FBI Computer Crime Survey of 2005 found that 44% of organizations had intrusions from within their own organizations. One of the vendors’ technicians was showing me a security feature on his machine at the demonstration last night, and I asked, “But this would only prevent poll workers and voters from tampering. How would it prevent insider tampering?” He shook his head and said, “Well of course it wouldn’t. No system is secure from insider tampering.”


I am not bringing this up to start a discussion of saints and sinners, but to say that electronic voting systems enable what is called “wholesale” tampering, where one individual can alter the outcome of an entire election. With paper ballots, assuming ordinary and proper surveillance cameras and procedures for managing chain-of-custody and security, the most that one individual can do is what is called “retail” tampering – one ballot or ballot-box at a time. This in itself is a reason to prefer paper ballots and optical scanners, rather than DREs.


In conclusion, I urge you, again, to select a paper ballot system when New York replaces our current lever voting machines.


Thank you.