Friday, March 21, 2008

Return of the Living Full-Face DREs

They're BAAAAAAAACK! Like every horror movie you've ever seen, the full-face touchscreen electronic voting machines (knowns as "DREs" or "Direct Recording Electronic" machines) just will not die in New York State.

As you may recall, as of February 19, it looked like every county save one (Hamilton, New York's smallest) had decided to go with ballot marking devices for this fall, and would purchase paper ballots and optical scan machines (which read the paper ballots) for 2009.

This seemed to be a stunning defeat for Liberty, the company looking to sell touch-screen machines in New York. But, even though orders were put into the Board, and even though (as far as we know) contracts have been signed for non-DRE systems, Liberty seems to be making something of a comeback -- or trying anyway.

From Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting, we learn that Cattaraugus County has asked the State Board to cancel its orders for ballot marking devices. Instead, it wants to buy DREs to replace lever machines ENTIRELY for this fall.

Bo Lipari tells me he is concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg. That Liberty may be making preparations to sue the State to allow DREs to replace lever machines in many counties this fall (right now, all counties are planning to purchase only one accessible machine per polling place, and to keep the lever machines through 2009).

I'm a little skeptical that, even if this is Liberty's plan, it will be successful. I can't believe that these machines could possibly be certified to New York's rigorous standards in time for the September primary, or even November general election.

But part of me feels like I've seen this horror movie before -- and the voting machine vendors should never be counted out.

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