Saturday, October 22, 2005

From the NY Election Reform Working Group - AP - State Board Pushes Ahead With Selecting Vote Machines

AP - State board pushes ahead with selecting vote machines

October 20, 2005

By MARC HUMBERT

AP Political Writer
October 20, 2005, 4:34 PM EDT

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The state Board of Elections formally began the process Thursday of settling on new voting machine standards for New York, but a spokesman said it may take a miracle to get them in place for next year's election.

The state board's advisory committee on voting machine standards held its first meeting Thursday. Board spokesman Lee Daghlian said the goal is for the state board to approve machine standards by January.

Once that is done, voting machine companies will have to submit machines for certification by the board before counties can start buying the machines that are supposed to be in operation for the 2006 elections.

The first test of the new machines in New York was supposed to come in the September 2006 primary elections. "That would be a miracle," Daghlian said Thursday, noting the delays that have dogged the process so far.

New York needs the new machines to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act adopted after the disputed 2000 presidential election. States were told in 2002 they had to come up with better voting technology by 2006.

Despite repeated warnings from many interest groups that the federally-set deadline for new voting machines was in jeopardy, partisan bickering between the Republican-led state Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly stalled an agreement on legislation allowing the process to move forward until June of this year.

The high-tech machinery is meant to replace lever-action equipment that has been in use in most of New York for much of the last century. The mechanical technology was first demonstrated in Lockport, near Buffalo, in 1892 and the machines quickly became the national standard.

HAVA is designed to bring states into the modern age of voting technology with its ATM-like, touch-screen machines or optical-scan technology. That means replacing about 20,000 machines in New York.

New York is receiving more than $220 million in federal aid to help finance the changeover. Some state officials have warned that a portion of the money might have to be given back if the deadline is missed.

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press