Monday, December 10, 2007

How You Can Help Decide Which Voting Machines New York Buys

In the comments section to my post about the latest developments in the ongoing battle to select new voting machines for New York, Jim asks

What can people do about this to influence the debate?

If only there were an easy answer, Jim! One of the most frustrating things about the legislature's decision to punt in selecting a new voting machines, is they helped to insulate the decision process from the public. Most of the power to decide what machines New York will use to replace the old lever-style systems is either in the hands of the Courts (not easily susceptible to lobbying or the weight of public opinion) and county election officials, who are appointed by the parties.

Nevertheless, there are things New Yorkers can do to make sure their counties buy the right machines (and in this case, that means optical scan systems).

First, let your county election officials know what you think. Write or call. Ultimately, they will be signing the contracts with the voting system vendors.

It also couldn't hurt to contact ECA, the state association of election commissioners and the political parties in your county (the county commissioners, after all, owe their jobs to these guys). Let them know you'll be very unhappy if your county purchases full face DREs.

Finally, let Governor Spitzer and your legislators know how you feel. The legislature may have passed the buck on this one, but if the Governor or the legislature say they will not provide extra money for the purchase and upkeep of full-face DREs (which will certainly be needed), county commissioners may think twice before purchasing what is certain to be very expensive equipment, with very expensive licensing fees.

If you want some material to send their way, we have a couple of suggestions.

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