Senator Dilan Reports On Status Of New Voting Machines

Martin Malavé Dilan

December 11, 2006

State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn) today explained why New York State is behind the rest of the nation in its efforts to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Elections Committee, Senator Dilan has been involved in the process to implement the State’s new HAVA legislation from the beginning.

“This process has proven to be long and tedious, but we are working hard to ensure that the State comply fully and completely with the Federal HAVA regulations and to guarantee that every voter in New York State is able to cast a vote that is counted fairly and accurately,” Senator Dilan said.

One of the significant causes for delay is the fact that New York is the only state that is requiring a “full-face” ballot on all of its machines. Full-face ballots show every candidate that is running for office when the voter first steps up to a machine. Other states only show voters the candidates running for one office at a time when they vote. New York is also requiring a voter-verifiable paper trail that will ensure accurate voting and certifiable results.

New York is also doing extensive if not exhaustive, testing on all of their machines. The State Board of Elections (BOE) recently finished a “usability” study on all of the voting machines that were submitted for state certification. This testing will determine how many voters can vote on a specific machine and is being conducted with actual potential voters. The information will then be used to determine how many new machines will be needed to replace the old lever-style machines.

“New York State is working extremely hard to ensure that we do not encounter the types of problems that we saw across the country during this years elections. All around the United States, those states that rushed into purchasing new machines ended up dealing with countless Election Day problems. In Florida, where the new ATM style DRE machines were used, we watched as 18,000 votes were lost mysteriously in a tightly contested congressional race. We want the most reliable machines with the most complete system, which is why we are taking longer.

“While both of these machines will produce a verifiable paper trail, it is my belief that the optical scan machines are far less tamper proof due to the fact that they scan a ballot previously filled out by hand personally by the voter. My Senate Democratic colleagues and I join with New Yorkers for Verified Voting, the League of Women Voters and NYPIRG in fully supporting the use of optical scan voting machines across the State,” Senator Dilan said.

“By taking every precaution to provide our voters with the most reliable machines we are missing some important deadlines which the Federal Election Assistance Commission has yet to act on. It is my opinion that it is better to guarantee that we have reliable and accurate voting machines than to rush into purchasing machines that can be tampered with and that may not accurately record the wishes of the people. I am confident that when we do complete this process, New York will be the model for secure and accurate voting standards that the rest of the country can look to,” Senator Dilan concluded.