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General News    H3'ed 2/17/09

Op-scan demos in NYC start today 2/17

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Message Teresa Hommel
The NYC Board of Elections has set up 5 public demos of the two optical scanner systems seeking certification to be sold in New York State.

The schedule is below. Please try to attend at least one demo.

The two vendors are:



Key questions to ask are:

1. What is the purchase price of these optical scanners?

2. What is the total amount of the continuing fees or costs after purchase, regardless of the terminology the vendor uses, such as maintenance agreement, service agreement, licensing fee, update fee, etc.

3. Is the vendor willing to allow their system to be used in a public hacking test to show that the system is not easily corrupted? The NY City Council passed a resolution in Aug. 2006 to ask the NYC Board of Elections to hold public hacking tests to show that these systems are not as easy to tamper with as investigators have charged.
Resolution 228A-2006

4. Will the Board of Elections be able to do all the work to conduct elections with this equipment, or will they need your assistance on an ongoing basis? What activities will require your assistance?

My current position:

I have come to believe that New York State should take all necessary actions to keep our mechanical lever machines. We should not computerize our elections.

My reasons are explained at (You may notice that I am updating my "New York" web page after a year of being unable to do so, but it is not finished yet!)

Briefly, in these economic times, no county will be able to afford to convert properly, or to run proper audits. I predict that no county will want to keep the voted ballots in continuous public view to allow continuous public observation to safeguard the ballots from both tampering and the suspicion of tampering. Given our difficulty in recruiting poll workers, I am not sure that we can recruit sufficient observers to watch the ballots. I also anticipate difficulty in getting laws or regulations that require statistically significant audits rather than a flat 3% spot-check.

I advocated for voter-marked paper ballots and optical scanners for nearly 4 years, and I am proud of that effort because it helped to save our state and city from DREs, which are electronic voting machines (rather than optical scanners which are electronic counting machines).

Please read my explanation of our current situation, and reply to let me know if you agree.

Teresa Hommel

NYC Board of Elections demonstrations
of Optical Scanners and accessible Ballot Marking Devices
Feb. 17 - Feb 26, 2009:

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Teresa Hommel is a voting activist in NY and chair of the Task Force On Voting Integrity, Community Church of New York.
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