Voting Machines Can’t Meet NY Standards in Time for 2009
This article was posted at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.
It’s become obvious that New York State’s new
voting systems will not be able to complete New York State
certification testing in time for the scheduled 2009 rollout. The state
sets the highest bar in the nation for approval of voting machines, one
that vendors have never been required to meet before. Their performance
in New York demonstrates that they are a long, long way from
understanding that the public will not stand for poorly designed, badly
tested and outrageously overpriced equipment, and a business philosophy
of let the customer be damned.
In its July 24 status report
SysTest, the contractor performing the state’s testing noted the
serious problems and risks to the testing schedule, and cite the
reasons that “NYSBOE’s ability to meet its court-mandated timeline
for complete and thorough testing is at significant risk for the
reasons described below”. Some of the reasons demonstrate the
complete lack of quality control on the part of the vendors before they
send systems out to New York’s certification site.
that these machines, which cost upward of $12,000 apiece, could be
delivered for approval with the kind of problems cited in the report:
“Numerous documentation discrepancies, caused
in large part by missing information from both Vendors’ documentation,
prevent us from finalizing the test procedures in all of the test
“There is a significant risk, given the
remaining allotted time, that the Vendors will be able to address all
of the expected discrepancies and SysTest Labs will have sufficient
time to regression test the fixes”.
“…the election setup procedures do not match the documentation”.
It goes on like this. The problem is that the
voting machine industry has thus far been able to get away with selling
expensive equipment that frequently breaks down, failing at a rate
that we would never, ever accept for toaster ovens, let alone a machine
that counts the vote. But now New York State comes along, and prodded
by citizen advocates demanding high certification standards, sets the
bar higher than it’s been before. But rather than act like a company
that has just signed a multi-million dollar contract and wants to make
sure that their products meet all the customer stated requirements prior to shipping it out,
the vendors take the same old broken approach – a quickly thrown
together, poorly designed product; not validated by user testing;
manufactured in haste with no discernable quality control standards;
let the buyer beware.
The question now is what will the State Board of
Elections do – allow the schedule to slip or compromise the
regulations? At their meeting on July 22,
there seemed to be agreement that New York should not allow any system
to be used that does not meet all of the state’s standards. But there
was also talk that the Board of Elections could perhaps overlook what
was described as “unimportant” discrepancies from the New York
This would be a dreadful mistake, for once you
start down this slippery slope, there’s no going back - and what was
once a shining example becomes a muddy mockery. New York must not
reward the vendors for this typically abysmal performance. The State
Board of Elections must protect New York’s voters – they must not
approve any machines that do not meet every single one of the State’s
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