Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Death Knell for DREs in New York?

Given the fact that other than Hamilton County (New York's smallest in population) no county in New York has listed a DRE as its preferred accessible unit come September, is it safe to assume New York will be almost all paper ballot and optical scanning machines come 2009? Are DREs dead in New York?

Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting isn't so sure:

Yogi said, it ain’t over till it’s over, and friends, it ain’t over yet. First of all, Judge O’Connor has required the State Board of Elections to extend the county machine selection deadline yet another four days, until Tuesday, February 19, giving the counties more time to change their selection to the Avante or LibertyVote DREs. But since they reaffirmed their choices last week, I don’t think any counties really want to change anything - they just want to move forward and get the new systems in place. More ominously however, don’t think for a minute that LibertyVote and Avante are done trying to stop this in any way they can.

But if every county in the state has unequivocally stated that they do not want DREs, can DRE vendors force them to do so through the Courts? Indeed they might, for this is the way hardball is played in rough and tumble New York. DRE vendors have put in way too much money to stop now. As you read this, LibertyVote’s lawyers are being paid $300 an hour to come up with something, anything, to salvage their hopes of dipping into New York State’s HAVA pot of gold.

The State Board does not formally authorize the use of the Ballot Markers until February 27, after testing is complete. Purchase Orders will be issued the following day by OGS. LibertyVote has successfully challenged the Boards’ authority to rule on acceptable systems once before, and with the right judge, who is to say they can’t do it again?

I'm a little more sanguine than Mr. Lipari. Is it possible that come 2009 New Yorkers will be voting on DREs rather than paper ballots, but it seems very unlikely. Of course, as Bo points out, taking anything for granted when it comes to New York, elections and big money is unwise.

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