Senator Felder Introduces “Restore Faith in Voting Act”

Felder’s three-prong legislation would change problematic voting machines in New York City

November 17, 2018 - Senator Simcha Felder (D-Midwood) introduced legislation on Friday that seeks to correct some of the voting problems that have plagued New York City over the last several years. The “Restore Faith in Voting Act” looks to address the major difficulties with voting machine breakdowns and long delays that have become all too common across New York City.

“It is clear from this November’s election that changes are desperately needed to help citizens vote in New York City,” said Senator Felder. “This legislation ensures that New Yorkers who show up to the polls are not met with broken machines and long lines.”

The “Restore Faith in Voting” Act has a three-prong strategy to improve the voting experience in both New York City and across the entire State.

Part A: Change NYC Voting Machines: Requires New York City Board of Elections to purchase and operate Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines which are permissible under NYS law. These voting machines are designed to allow voting by simply touching the screen. Voters review a paper record of their vote before casting it, which then acts as the vote of record for audits and recounts. The cost of the new machines would be borne by the State.

 “Since the current machines are expiring shortly, now is the time to update to machines that work. Modern technology has made touch screen devices so common that most New Yorkers use them several times a day. Whether it is a touch screen phone, an ATM, or a self-checkout machine at the local store, touch screen machines are everywhere," said Senator Felder. "It’s time that our voting machines catch up. The bill would require New York City BOE to begin using this type of machine, with a well-known interface.”

Part B: Improve Poll Worker Training and Recruitment: Requires NYS Board of Elections (BOE) to establish and host an Education and Training Institute to develop a curriculum for poll worker training and require election commissioners and employees to complete mandatory annual training.

Part C: Voting Machine Technicians Unit: Creates a Mobile Operations Voting Equipment Unit or MOVE unit. The MOVE unit consists of at least two skilled technicians proficient in the voting machine technology operated by the BOE. MOVE Units will be deployed by the BOE on Election Day to polling places where a voting machine has stopped operating or is malfunctioning. At least one MOVE Unit will be available to service every 100 polling sites.

“Voting is the most fundamental right we have as Americans, but when we can’t exercise that right because of broken machines and long lines, I question our commitment to democracy. New Yorkers shouldn’t leave their polling site wondering whether their vote was properly recorded. This bill rights an injustice for many New Yorkers who simply want to participate in the electoral process,” concluded Senator Felder.

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