Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton Call on Counties to Adopt Paper Ballot/Optical Scan Voting Systems

Launch county by county "Scan and Be Sure" campaign with Assembly and Senate colleagues and good government activists
June 20, 2005
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton announced their Scan and Be Sure County by County Campaign to persuade county officials to adopt paper ballot/optical scanner with ballot marking device for those voters requiring special assistance. They were joined by colleagues in the Assembly and Senate as well as good government activists.

Galef and Lifton introduced legislation in the Assembly (A.6503) implementing paper ballot/optical scanner and ballot-marking device for the special needs voters voting technology throughout New York State. Senator John Sabini introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S.5625).

It is likely that the New York State Legislature Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Joint Conference Committee will delegate the voting machine decision to counties throughout New York State. Each county will be authorized to make a decision through its election commissioners, with authorizing budget appropriations from the county legislatures about whether to acquire and use touch screen machines, paper ballot, optical scanner, ballot-marking devices, or some combination thereof as their voting systems. The current lever machines must be replaced to comply with HAVA regulations.

State legislators, good government organizations, and citizen groups throughout New York State believe that the paper ballot/optical scanner and ballot marking devices for the disabled system are the right technology to adopt and implement.

"Our democracy is at stake," said Assemblywoman Galef. "I am convinced that paper ballot/optical scanner with a ballot marking device for those requiring special assistance is the only system that provides the safety, security, and transparency necessary for our democracy. I have become increasingly alarmed by the documented failures of electronic voting throughout the United States. We can’t afford failure in New York nor can we waste our taxpayer dollars on technology that does not work well."

"From my study of this issue, I believe that the optical scanner with a ballot-marking device for those with disabilities is the best choice for New York’s counties. The original paper ballot is stored in the machine for a possible re-count, a critical issue given all the incidents of touch screen malfunction and manipulation in other states. They will be less expensive to purchase and maintain than the touch screen devices, and they are easy to use. To me, they seem the clear, logical choice," stated Barbara Lifton.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., Co-Sponsor of A.6503 and HAVA Conference Committee member, stated, "We have reached a critical juncture in New York State’s efforts to comply with the ‘Help America Vote Act’. Before we leave Albany this week, I expect we will adopt legislation with appropriate standards that will delegate the decision about voting systems to our counties and the city of New York. After my service on the HAVA Conference Committee, and as the ranking Minority member on the Election Law Committee, I am convinced that the best way for local government to assure the integrity of our electoral process is by implementing paper ballot/optical scan voting systems. I will be urging my home county of Suffolk and other jurisdictions across New York State to do just that."

"Optical scanning is the most reliable, verifiable and economical system that I think New York can make available under the new federal requirements," said Senator Sabini, the Senate sponsor of the legislation.

"New Yorkers deserve reliable voting equipment that instills confidence and ensures transparent, publicly verifiable elections," said State Senator Liz Krueger. "Optical scan/paper ballot systems would save many millions of dollars in acquisition and maintenance costs compared to DRE touch screen systems. More importantly, they are far more reliable and trustworthy."

Legislators were joined by Bo Lipari, Executive Director for New Yorkers for Verified Voting; Aimee Allaud, Political Director for the New York State League of Women Voters; Cliff Perez, Systems Advocate for Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, Inc.; Richard Kirsch, Executive Director, Citizen Action of New York; and Sarah Kogel-Smucker, Legislative Associate, Sierra Club.