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New York

An Alternative Plan for New York State’s Voting Machines PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
December 19, 2006

New Voting Machines, But No Earlier Than 2009


It is now all but official that New York State’s current plan to replace lever voting machines by September 2007 is not going to happen. Certification testing of new voting systems has been delayed due to the vendors’ inability to meet the New York’s rigorous standards, and their irresponsible practice of submitting continuous bug fixes and changes, requiring that testing be continually restarted. I’ve written in detail about the problems and issues encountered in New York’s testing process here.

On December 18, 2006, New York State Board of Elections announced at a meeting of County Commissioners of Elections that the State will undoubtedly miss the September 2007 deadline, without elaborating on what plan might replace the current one.


It is time for New York to discuss alternatives. But simply delaying it one more year until 2008 won’t do. I propose that New York State must delay any introduction of new voting machines until at least 2009.

New York State’s Voting Machine Certification Process PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
December 15, 2006

Issues, Status and Projections for Voting Machine Testing

Adequately tested voting systems are a prerequisite for well run elections and to ensure public confidence in election results. When it is completed, the current process of testing voting systems will culminate in New York State’s four Election Commissioners deciding to approve, or “certify” those systems which meet the State’s regulations. Certification testing is ongoing and is proving to be a mixture of good and bad news.


On the plus side, New York State has a strict set of statutory and regulatory requirements which voting rights advocacy organizations fought hard to adopt and which set high standards for voting machines to meet. On the minus side, the State Board of Elections seems willing to compromise strict compliance with regulation in order to allow voting machines to qualify when they otherwise would not. While the State Board has frequently stated they want to do certification testing right rather than do it fast, the tendency has been to err on the side of speed rather than rigor.

New York: Making Every Vote Count PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Don Heppner   
November 28, 2006

‘When the votes disappear into cyberspace and you ain’t got that paper ballot, you’re in trouble.’ Ion Sancho, Supervisor of Elections, Leon County, Florida


This article appeared in The Bedford Record Review. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

As the February 2007 decision on new electronic technology voting machines looms closer, some counties in New York State are fighting to keep the old lever machines.

Suffolk County has filed a lawsuit against the state to prevent the state from forcing the county to purchase new technology in favor of keeping the old lever machines, except for one high-tech machine in each district for the handicapped to vote.

The two machines being considered by New York State are electronic touch screens and optical scanners. The electronic touch screen machines do not have a reliable paper trail to audit an election. The optical scanners have the actual ballots to conduct an audit, according to Ion Sancho.

Mr. Sancho, a former New Yorker, is considered an expert on voting machines, and was recently interviewed for an HBO special, “Hacking Democracy,” on voting machines and the voting process. He is the supervisor of elections in Leon County Florida, an elected position.

New Voting Systems for New York - Long Lines and High Cost PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By William Edelstein, Board of Directors, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
November 14, 2006

Click Here to Download New Torkers for Verified Voting's Full Report Report


As New York decides on new voting systems, one key question is this — how many voters can be served by each voting machine? This number is critical in order to estimate costs as well as to avoid long lines for voters. The New York City Board of Elections recently released a report saying that New York should replace each lever machine by 1 full-face-ballot computer DRE voting machine with voter verified paper trail.


Assuming that each voter will take 3.25 minutes to vote, they calculate that 277 voters can vote on each DRE in a 15 hour Election Day. However, the report neglects the effect of non-uniform voter arrivals, DRE outages and extra time needed by voters using special accessibility aids on DREs. We have applied queuing theory, the mathematical study of waiting lines, to carry out computer simulations of realistic elections. We use a scenario with more voters arriving at peak times—early morning, lunch and early evening hours—as is typical during elections. According to our calculations, a ratio of 277 voters per DRE would create unacceptable wait times of 1 hour or longer. Recent elections using DREs have produced extremely long lines in many places around the country, causing would-be voters to leave, thereby disenfranchising them.


In order to guarantee reasonably short wait times—even without taking into account DRE outages and the use of DRE special voting aids—our results indicate that each DRE in New York should be allocated to no more than 150 voters, which means replacing each lever machine by 3 DREs. But the acquisition and maintenance cost of this many electronic voting machines would be excessive. In contrast, precinct based, paper ballot optical scan systems use simple, inexpensive marking booths that are the equivalent choke points to DREs. These paper ballot scan systems can be easily and economically configured to eliminate lines.

Sequoia Tries Pulling the Wool Over New York’s Eyes PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
October 10, 2006
If the Facts Don’t Fit, Make Something Up


Recently, Sequoia distributed a press release to New York State legislators and election officials implying that the DREs it hopes to sell New York had received top ratings in the recent Brennan Center Usability Study. Unfortunately, this extremely misleading press release makes statements which directly contradict the actual conclusions of the Brennan Center Study. Using such deception in a widely distributed press release at a critical moment in New York’s voting system certification and selection process is not only false advertising; it assumes that New York officials who received the release won’t look at the facts behind Sequoia’s spin.


In almost every sentence the claims made in Sequoia’s press release are misleading, if not unabashedly false. To understand the context you need to take a look at the three statements made right at the top of the press release:
Sequoia Voting Systems' AVC Edge Receives Best Rating in New Brennan Center Report on Usability

Wednesday September 20, 3:04 pm ET


Used in Nevada for 2004 Presidential Election, Sequoia's DRE With VVPAT Produces Lowest Residual Vote Rate of All Voting Systems


Full-Faced DRE Most Secure, Reliable, Accessible and Accurate Voting Solution for New York


NEW YORK, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Sequoia Voting Systems' AVC Edge, a touch screen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) voting system, received the top usability rating of any voting machine in the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law's recent report…

Let’s take a look, line by line, at these statements.

New York: Suffolk Co. Officials Announce Intent to File Suit Over Voting Machine Mandate PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Howard Stanislevic   
October 06, 2006

County Exec Seeks to Continue Lever System Which “Has Proven to be Reliable”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced Thursday the county will file suit against the New York State Board of Elections to block its mandate that counties must purchase new technology voting machines by September, 2007. See "Suffolk County Executive Just Says 'No' to Electronic Vote Counting" and "Suffolk County Executive Threatens Fight to Keep Lever Voting Machines".

Levy was joined at a press conference by Suffolk lawmaker Jon Cooper, as well as Nassau County Legislator Lisanne Altmann who has expressed a desire to file a similar suit on behalf of Nassau voters. Suffolk officials said they do not believe the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires the county to replace lever machines.

The two Long Island counties constitute the largest jurisdictions in the state outside of New York City with a total of nearly 2-million registered voters.

"The tried and tested lever system has proven to be reliable, and I do not agree with a state mandate that we spend millions of dollars on equipment which may be confusing, or more importantly, vulnerable to tampering and fraud," said Levy.

Opinion: Can New York Keep Lever Machines? PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
September 18, 2006

Long Island verified voting advocates have been asking me if New York State can keep it's lever machines, as proposed by Suffolk county executive Steve Levy in a recent Newsday article.


Mr. Levy argument for keeping levers runs into two big problems however -

1) New York State election law declares that lever machines must be replaced by September 2007, and

The Department of Justice lawsuit settlement with the state of New York declares that lever machines will be replaced by this same date.

I've provided some amplification on these two points below.

While it is clear that many New Yorkers would prefer to keep lever machines, New York State law as written and currently interpreted by the vast majority of State and County Boards of Elections, state legislators, and citizen advocacy and good government groups says that we cannot. Changing this to allow lever machines would require new legislation passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor, and figuring out how to circumvent the binding ruling by the US District Court that levers must be replaced.
Rather than pursue chimeras, New Yorkers for Verified Voting believes that citizens efforts are best spent on ensuring that New York chooses the most reliable, auditable, accessible and cost effective option - hand marked paper ballots augmented by precinct based ballot scanners and ballot markers. The final decision in New York on new voting equipment is upon us - there's no time to waste on a long shot unsupported by the legal situation in New York.

New York: Suffolk County Executive Just Says "No" to Electronic Vote Counting PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Howard Stanislevic, VoteTrustUSA   
September 16, 2006
Suffolk County, NY Executive Steve Levy went on record in Newsday today in favor of keeping mechanical lever machines to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), instead of newer electronic vote counting systems which have been fraught with problems in many other states. While some may see this as an act of defiance, others will realize that Mr. Levy has just been reading the law. With millions of dollars and the very integrity of our democracy at stake, it might behoove other officials to follow Levy's example.

According to Levy, as reported by Newsday's Martin C. Evans, the HAVA and NY State's Election Reform and Modernization Act of 2005 (ERMA), which were both written to avoid a repeat of the 2000 voting debacle in Florida, were designed to *encourage* localities to buy new voting equipment -- not to *require* it. Levy wrote in a letter urging his county's  elections commissioners to oppose the new machines, "We in Suffolk County should not be inconvenienced or forced to spend millions of our precious taxpayer dollars because counties in Florida had troubles with 'hanging chads'." Unlike lever machines, ERMA banned punch card voting systems in NY last year.
New York Attorney General Circulates Statement Calling For Paper Ballot Optical Scan Voting PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
September 06, 2006

Spitzer Calls Optical Scan Voting Systems "Proven Technology", Voices Concern About Electronic Voting

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (pictured at right) has published a statement voicing concerns about the reliability and even the potential for election fraud with electronic voting after speaking with local activist groups around New York state. In the statement Spitzer asks the state to implement "a vigorous testing regime" or consider an alternative to electronic machines called 'Paper Ballot with Precinct Based Optical Scan', also known as PBOS.

"Albany's implementation of the Help America Vote Act has been a well-publicized disaster," Spitzer said in the statement, "State government's failure of leadership is especially disconcerting in light of widespread reports of the unreliability and potential for fraud of electronic voting machines."

Optical Scan systems are popular in a number of other states. Within the past year, the states of New Mexico and Connecticut have decided to use statewide optical scan systems to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).The complete Optical scan system includes ballot marking technology which allows a paper ballot based system to provide accessible, private and independent voting for voters with disabilities. HAVA requires new voting machines for New York by 2007.

New York: To Avoid Glitches, Council Pushes For Vote Machine Tests PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Reuven Blau, The Chief-Leader   
August 30, 2006

This article appeared in The Chief Leader. It is reposted with permission.


As the Sept. 12 primary nears, the City Council has unanimously passed a resolution urging the city Board of Elections to conduct public tests of the new voting systems that are under consideration for the fall 2007 elections.

The resolution, which is largely based on research conducted by voter advocate Teresa Hommel (pictured at left), also asks the Board to publish an analysis of the "acquisition, transition, and continuing costs of new voting systems."

Electronic Kinks

Ms. Hommel and other election integrity advocates have charged that computerized Direct Recording Electronic systems are fundamentally flawed, and have been urging the Board to use only paper ballots and optical scanner devices.

They contend that computerized voting systems similar to ATM machines cannot be properly audited after elections and that the technology can be easily hacked into and manipulated. In addition, purchasing enough DREs for the entire city will cost approximately four to six times more than the simpler and more manageable optical scan machines, according to Ms. Hommel.

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