December 20, 2005


Comments from the

Women’s City Club of New York


Marjorie Kelleher Shea, Elections Specialist

before the

New York State Board of Elections


RE: DRAFT SUBTITLE V, Part 6209, Voting Systems Standards”


Thank you for hearing comments from the public on the Draft Voting Systems Standards reflecting changes in State law to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). My name is Marjorie Kelleher Shea and I am Election Specialist with the Women’s City Club of New York a nonpartisan organization founded by suffragists ninety years ago. We believe that public confidence in a vote-counting system is necessary for democratic elections. In the last decade the WCC has worked to bring New York City’s voting system into the 21st Century. We have testified to the mayor, City Council and the NYC Board of Elections on the need to improve the administration of elections in the City of New York. As a member of the Poll Worker Training Advisory Committee convened by the City Board of Elections in 2002, we have seen some improvement in the quality of training for these temporary Election Day employees.


WCC agrees with the following paragraphs in Section 6209.2 Polling Place Voting System Requirements:


WCC does not agree with:


The DRAFT lacks a contract requirement of the vendor to provide information and educational materials for Poll Workers.


Section 6209.9 A(c) and (d) does require “the vendor shall assist in the training of all elections personnel” and combines “inspectors” in the same sentence with permanent Board of Elections staff. 


WCC recommends a new section be added requiring the vendor to provide certain information to manage the large temporary workforce needed at the polls on an Election Day.


·        The vendor should state the number of poll site workers needed to open, operate and close the voting machine on Election Day. These numbers should be based on the present system of a sixteen-hour day with two hours off for meals and take into account those tasks where State law requires double workers from the two major political parties. For example, NYS Law requires that workers from the “two major political parties in the state” enter the booth with a voter who requests help. Other tasks such as pushing the count lever on the side of the booth require a single worker. These numbers are important for cost comparisons and also space requirements for poll site environment.


·        The vendor should provide a full set of training materials for temporary Election Day workers. This would include a curriculum for training sessions, training manuals for various levels of poll workers and a training video/DVD. New York City hires approximately 30,000 temporary Election Day poll workers in six categories—Assembly District Coordinators, Poll site Coordinators, Inspectors, Information Clerks, Door Clerks and Interpreters. Training materials for police officers of the NYPD who play an important role not only in maintaining order during the day but also transmitting the final machine tally must also be provided.


·        The vendor should be required to have a detailed plan in case of machine failure.  State law requires that the voter be offered an Emergency Ballot when there is a mechanical failure of a voting machine. Such E ballots are placed in a cardboard box assembled by the poll workers and counted by a Republican and Democratic inspector at the end of the day.



WCC looks forward to a bright future when we have an efficient and transparent voting system. We urge the state and city boards to have a contracting process that is also transparent and accountable to the public.