Thursday, July 08, 2010

More Voices for a Better Overvote Procedure in New York

In the past week, editorial boards, public officials, and computer scientists have joined the Brennan Center in calling on the New York City and State Boards of Elections to refrain from using an unnecessarily confusing procedure for the handling of overvoted ballots that is likely to disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters.

A panel of leading computer scientists wrote to the Boards of Elections yesterday to emphasize that “[t]he most obvious solution to this problem is to set the voting machines to reject overvoted ballots… Because no software would be modified, testing of the change can be expected to be simple, straightforward and efficient, and to take no more than a day.” City Councilmember Margaret Chin also wrote to the State Board yesterday, asking for an explanation as to why they have “refused to implement this simple fix.”

Writing in another letter to the Boards of Elections today, chief election officials in jurisdictions across the country endorsed the automatic rejection of overvoted ballots, noting that this “better administrative practice…should not lead to long lines or confusion at polling places. To the contrary, by automatically rejecting overvotes, voters are immediately taken out of the voting line, provided with a new ballot, and given the opportunity to ensure that their intended choices are accurately recorded.”

In a July 5th editorial, the New York Times called New York's current procedure “needlessly complicated.” This week, the Daily News demanded that this “dangerous glitch…must be fixed now,” and the Journal News concurred, saying that “it would be unacceptable to have even one vote go unaccounted.”

To read what others are saying about New York’s overvote procedure and to join the chorus of voices calling on the City and State Boards of Elections to implement an easy fix to the problem, click here.

UPDATE: State Senator Liz Krueger has also joined in calling on the State Board of Elections to change its procedure for handling overvotes. Click here to view her letter to the Board.

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