Saturday, November 1, 2008

NY State Board of Elections Halts E-Vote "Certification" Tests

ALBANY, NY, Oct. 31

After informing the US Dept. of Justice, who reportedly have been "speechless" regarding the inability of New York to certify even one electronic vote-counting system to replace our reliable lever voting machines in time for the 2009 elections, the State Board of Elections informed Judge Gary L. Sharpe that they have issued a stop-work order to SysTest Labs, in effect halting the testing effort, until "a further investigation of the issues surrounding the likely suspension [of SysTest by the EAC] could be had."

The news was delivered to the court in the form of the State Board's Oct. 31st HAVA compliance report (PDF), which the court ordered the State to transmit on a weekly basis early this year. The full series of reports can be found here at Election Law @ Moritz. The reports reveal a plethora of problems with the certification process, which had already placed the lever replacement time line known as "Plan A" in jeopardy.

Prior to ordering these reports, Judge Sharpe had stated that he got his information about e-voting from reading the newspapers. We commend His Honor for trying to become better informed on these issues, as they can be rather complex and esoteric at times.

Less esoteric is the need for an accurate and reliable vote-counting system for the State of New York. Fortunately though, we already have one. It's comprised of about 20,000 lever voting machines (all of which are HAVA-compliant now that NY has met HAVA's Accessibility requirements); paper-ballot marking devices for voters with special needs; hand counting of those ballots at the polling place on election night; and the HAVA-required permanent paper records produced on election night -- not by machines -- but by thousands of bi-partisan election inspectors contemporaneously throughout the State.

The one ingredient that is conspicuously absent from New York's vote-counting system, except for a small percentage of absentee ballots (and that is NOT a HAVA requirement) is: SOFTWARE! And we all know how reliable that is -- especially the voting system kind.

The State Board's letter to the court states that they are "hopeful that a plan for resolution of these issues will be developed in the near future." And so are we. It's called Plan L.