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News Channel 13 WNYT Albany

Posted at: 09/19/2007 10:38:01 PM

By: Dan Bazile


NYS behind in compliance with federal voting law


ALBANY -- New York State is still years away from compliance in the Help America Vote Act or HAVA. The law mandates replacing the state's antiquated voting machines. Now New York State is under pressure from the federal government to replace the old voting machines before the 2008 presidential election. It's the only state that has yet to comply with the mandate.


Wednesday some advocacy groups say that could be a blessing in disguise. They say New York has a chance to learn from the mistakes made by other states and do it right. They say state officials are still making some bad decisions and could lose millions of dollars as a result.


The first deadline for HAVA came and went more than a year and a half ago. The Feds gave New York nearly $200 million dollars to get the job done. Due to the delays, New York could stand to lose a good chunk of the money. The delays could also be working in New York's favor.


"In fact there is some luckiness involved here because we didn't waste the money by spending it on machines that might not have been up to par," says Lee Daghlian of the New York State Board of Elections.


Daghlian says states like California, New Jersey and Ohio must buy new machines after complying with HAVA. But advocacy groups like "New Yorkers for Verified Voting" says the Board of Elections will make the same mistake as it plans to buy the same electronic voting machines that caused nightmares in the other states.


"The New York Board of Elections just doesn't get it. Why do they want to allow broken machines in our polling places in spite of the abundant evidence they have failed," says Bo Lipar.


Lee Daghlian says the new machines, if approved on Thursday, will be a temporary fix for the presidential election in '08.


"The amount of work to be done here is tremendous. It's going to take some time to do it right. We don't want to have happen to us what happened to other states," says Daghlian.


It could be another two years before New York is fully compliant with HAVA.


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