Thursday, January 28, 2010

Levers Can Be Used in March Village Elections

[Additional material was added to this post on 1 February]

The NY State Board of Elections (SBoE)has decided that villages may continue to use the lever voting machines in the March 2010 elections. According to a report in the Post Star "state Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said officials concluded that counties that haven't participated in a pilot program for the new machines can have an extended grace period."

What is unclear is whether villages in counties that participated in a limited way in the November pilot, like Dutchess, which deployed an op-scan in one voting district in the city of Poughkeepsie, will be required to use the scanners in March.

The SBoE decision was in response to concerns like those in a January 4th memo filed by election officials in Washington County, which did not participate in the pilot, that "The training that we need for ourselves, the inspectors and the technicians is not going to be completed in time for your use." But the other anxiety expressed by the Washington county election commissioners is one which has been systematically ignored by the SBoE despite having been raised consistently by county officials across the state. The Washington Commissioners wrote, "Also a concern is the cost of programming the new machines, transporting them and the printing of the ballots that may be prohibitive to small villages."


Although electronic voting machines were used in the November 2009 elections, the village of Saranac Lake has asked permission to use lever machines in the March village elections. Village clerk Kareen Tyler said, "I just don't think the expense or availability of the (new) machines is something the village is going to be able to handle." If permission to use the levers is not granted Tyler said the village will go to paper ballots which will be counted by hand. "It would not be difficult to do at all," she said. "There would be rules and guidelines and safeguards so they couldn't be stuffed or anything like that."

The story is reported in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.