I blogged two weeks ago about the Brennan Center's serious concern that New York's new voting machines (to be used statewide for the first time this year) may cause massive problems. In short, experiences in Florida and Wisconsin strongly suggest that the way the machines are currently configured will lead to significantly higher error rates for voters, meaning potentially tens of thousands of votes being spoiled for no good reason. Well, we've been joined in our concern by virtually every voting rights and good government group in New York that focuses on these issues, including AALDEF, CIDNY, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, NAACP LDF, NYPIRG, New Yorkers for Verified Voting and the Women's City Club of New York. You can read a letter from all of these groups to the New York State Board of Elections here. It states in relevant part:
New York’s new optical scan machines will treat overvotes in a way that threatens the voting rights of millions of New Yorkers. As you know, unlike most optical scan systems, the ES&S DS200 and ImageCast machines purchased for New York do not automatically return overvoted or otherwise erroneous ballots to the voter for correction. . .
Overvotes are almost always mistakes and the letter and spirit of the [Help America Vote Act] requires that the state do everything it can to prevent inadvertent errors when voters cast their ballot on Election Day.
We strongly urge the Board of Elections to correct this problem immediately. The New York Board of Elections must require that the ES&S DS200 and ImageCast machines automatically return overvoted or otherwise erroneous ballots to the voter for correction.
The good news is that the fix for this potentially huge problem seems relatively simple. The Board of Elections should be able to request this change from the vendors and significantly minimize the risk of overvotes and spoiled ballots. Let's hope they make this happen, soon. We're going to keep the pressure on, and we'll keep you informed.