Voters Win Lengthy Voting Machine Battle

Assemblywoman Galef applauds the Board of Elections for their decision to support optical scan/paper ballot voting machines
January 24, 2008

After three long years of actively working to protect voters’ right to know that their votes are secure and being counted, Assemblywoman Galef is excited to report that the New York State Board of Elections has reached a decision to certify three Optical Scan/Paper Ballot Voting Machines. Voters personally mark their ballots, then these machines read and count the ballots electronically and also maintain the paper ballots intact for recounts.

Under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a recent ruling in the federal courts indicates that New York State must have voting equipment for those in need of special assistance in each of the polling places by the 2008 fall elections. Today the NYS Board of Elections has approved three optical scan machines for the election commissioners in each county to choose from. They include the Sequoia Imagecast, Premier Automark and ES&S Automark machines. No DRE (Direct Electronic Recording Machines) machines were approved.

“This is a victory for all voters because it assures that their vote will always be counted. It’s also fantastic news for taxpayers, especially given that other states have spent millions of dollars on quick solutions to this problem and now have to throw away their newly purchased DRE investments,” says Galef. “With electronic counters that do not have a paper trail, there is no way to validate votes.

“I must compliment all of our voting rights advocates in the 90th Assembly District who have worked so hard on this issue, including good government organizations and citizens groups,” says Galef. “This proves the value of people working together for a good cause. We really made a difference.”

Galef’s Scan and Be Sure Campaign started in 2005, with legislation she introduced (A.5170) in conjunction with Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. The goal of the legislation was to persuade county officials to adopt these optical scanners with ballot marking devices for voters requiring special assistance.

Many states have or are in the process of abandoning their DREs, including Florida, Maryland, New Mexico and most recently Colorado. “In New York, it was a drawn out process. But, it’s a good thing that we chose to hold off and thoroughly evaluate the options before committing taxpayer dollars to a technology that might have proven faulty,” Galef remarked. “I believe our future of voting lies with optical scan/paper ballots.”