Teresa Hommel

 

Board of Elections in the City of New York

March 4, 2009

 

 

Please take leadership politically and legally

to avoid replacing our lever voting machines

 

 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today.

 

I love my country. That's why I've devoted myself to public service, by opposing computerization of our elections since June, 2003.

 

I urge you to:

 

1. I urge you to take leadership in New York State to avoid replacing our lever voting

††† machines until all possible avenues of resistance are exhausted.

 

2. I urge you, at the minimum, to advocate to keep the lever machines until our current

††† economic crisis is over. This is not the time to embark on a conversion we cannot afford

††† to do properly. A recent article in Electionline recounted that some jurisdictions are

††† actually being forced to cancel elections due to lack of funds.

 

††††††† In spite of the many demands made upon you, you will be held to blame if you attempt

††††††† to replace the lever machines and, due to lack of funds, the conversion goes badly.

††††††† Like a family in financial crisis, it doesn't make sense to buy a turkey if your gas was

††††††† shut off and you can't cook it.

 

3. I urge you to resist replacing the lever machines with voter-marked paper ballot and

††† optical scanner systems until our state law is updated to provide legal requirements for

††† continuous public observation of voted ballots and other election-day materials, as well

††† as statistically significant manual audits.

 

††††††† Everyone knows that government behind closed doors is easily corrupted, and that

††††††† computerized election technology closes the door to proper observation of elections.

††††††† This is why it is essential for the voter-marked paper ballots to be guarded by

††††††† continuous public observation.

 

4. I urge you to advocate to the state for effective standards for proper observation:

 

††††††† Voters must be able to observe that their own votes are cast as intended. Both lever

††††††† machines and paper ballot systems enable that.

 

††††††† Election observers must be able to observe the storage, handling, and counting of

††††††† votes. Lever machines facilitate that. Computers, even optical scanners, prevent itó

††††† ††unless you are willing to maintain the voter-marked paper ballots in public view from

††††††† the close of polls until the audits and certification of winners, and to hand-count all the

††††††† votes on paper ballots, and to use optical scanner tallies only to verify the hand-count.

 

5. If all this seems like a lot, I urge you to remember the following:

 

††††††† a. There is no such thing as a secure computer. Since I started working with computers

†††††††††††† in 1967, I have worked for hundreds of clients, but I have never seen a secure

†††††††††††† computer installation.

 

†††††††††††† FBI statistics say that 87% of installations have security incidents in a single year,

†††††††††††† 44% caused by insiders. Even if Boards of Elections are twice as honest and secure

†††††††††††† as the average, computers are an uncontrollable and unnecessary risk.

 

††††††† b. Your advocacy to keep our lever machines will benefit the entire state.

 

††††††††††† I received an email from an upstate resident who said lever machines need to be

††††††††††† replaced because chain-of-custody for lever machines was bad upstate:

 

          Many machines are not stored in a central facility, but in the attic of the town barn or a back room of the firehouse.

          There are no "bi-partisan" technicians. Only one technician, or even a custodian trained in setting up the machines, so obviously there is no bipartisan pair, and no bipartisan oversight.

          After the election, the canvass and other election materials are driven to the BOE by a single partisan election inspector. Usually the one living closest to the BOE, or the one who won the booby prize.

          The machines sit in the town hall or firehouse or church basement for days before and after the election. Lots of partisan people can get access to them.

 

††††††††† If this is how they handle lever machines, what will they do with voter-marked paper

†††††††††† ballots and optical scanners? Most people don't know how to tamper with a lever

†††††††††† machine, but everyone can replace or lose a paper ballot, or spoil it with stray marks.

 

†††††† c. I have heard that New York's Congressional Representatives are being criticized by

†††††††††† representatives from other states because NY hasnít bought into computerized

†††††††††† elections yet.

 

†††††††††† This is like 50 people walking down a country road, and 49 fall into a muddy ditch.

†††††††††† When I was growing up in the country in Missouri, the 49 would have called for the

†††††††††† one still standing to help pull them out, not to fall into the ditch with them. I urge

†††††††††† you to share this analogy with any Congressional Representatives you meet who feel

†††††††††† they should jump into the mud.

 

Thank you.

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