Machines simple to use, voters say

School board switched to electronic devices after malfunction last year


By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Staff writer

First published: Wednesday, May 16, 2007


TROY -- Many Troy City School District voters found the new -- and controversial -- electronic voting machines easy to use in Tuesday's budget vote.


"It seemed pretty straight-forward. It's got the paper backup," said Don Streeter, who cast his ballot at School 18.


The school board decided to switch to the electronic machines supplied for free by Liberty Election Systems of Albany after a lever machine at School 18 malfunctioned in last year's vote. That machine only counted the first two votes cast.


"That's why I was glad to see something done this year," said M. Patricia Gavigan after voting at School 18.


District voters cast ballots on 10 electronic voting machines that were programmed last week at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections with the $88.3 million budget information and the names of the five Board of Education candidates.


School 18 was again the site of the only apparent glitch in this year's election. The poll watchers turned up late, delaying the set-up of the voting machines and the opening of the polls by about 15 minutes.


"Some workers were delayed. There were some people lined up, ready to vote. Some chose to do paper ballots. No one was turned away," said Caroline Boardman, a district spokeswoman.


New Yorkers for Verified Voting and the League of Women Voters opposed the introduction of the electronic voting machines in Troy because they have not been certified by the state Board of Elections. Under state education law, the school district was free to use the machines.


Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting said independent oversight is needed since these were untested, unapproved machines and poll watchers should have been permitted.


"There are a lot of special observational skills to determine if voters are having problems. It's not always obvious," Lipari said.


Greg O'Brien, who voted at School 14, said his sight is impaired and that the electronic machines were easy to read and use.


Hannelore Wilfert, who also voted at School 14, said she missed the pulling of the big handle on the old lever machines.


"You had a sense of power," Wilfert said about casting a ballot.


Kenneth C. Crowe II can be reached at 454-5084 or by e-mail at


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