Chairwoman, Task Force on Election Integrity
Community Church of New York
Statement before the Joint Hearing of the Committee on Governmental Operations
and the Committee on Technology in Government of the New York City Council
January 29, 2007
State law gives the decision about our future voting equipment to our county election commissioners. An argument has been made that the New York City Council should remain silent and let the commissioners make their choice.
In a democracy it is not appropriate for anyone to remain silent when questions of this importance must be decided.
The City Council has oversight of the Board of Elections. One way to exercise it is by asking questions at a hearing. Another way is by passing a resolution.
Resolution 131 is a public acknowledgement that electronic voting machines don't work*, and even if they did, they are inappropriate for use because they shut people out from observing and understanding the recording, casting, storage, handling, and counting of votes. These election activities must be understood and observed by ordinary non-technical citizens, or else our elections will lack legitimacy and cannot support a legitimate democratic government.
Not everyone believes in, or values, democracy -- defined as government of, by, and for the people. Some Americans prefer convenience, even if that means shutting ordinary people out of our proper role in elections and instead relying on a handful of experts, computer technologists and statisticians, to tell us that everything is OK and not to worry our little heads.
The fight against computerized elections is the first great voting rights struggle of our new century. Please let the New York City Council join this fight for elections that can be observed and understood. Please do not force the Council to remain silent.
I urge you to vote Resolution 131 out of committee with a recommendation for passage by the full council.