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General News    H3'ed 9/14/10

The Results are in! The New York Voting Machines Stink!

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...or does it?

4:15pm, Tuesday, 9/14, Election Day.

I'm writing this before the evening crush of after-work voters, but already there are problems being reported with NY's new government-mandated voting machines.
The NY Times Blog reports:

On the first day a new voting system was unveiled in New York City that was supposed to be speedier and more accurate, the process was plagued with problems with some polling places opening as much as four hours late and others rife with chaos as workers coped with malfunctioning machines.

An eyewitness reporter, Mr. Keohane, 33, the executive editor at Hemispheres, the in-flight magazine of United Airlines, adds:
Machines down, no contingency plans, volunteers yelling at volunteers, volunteers yelling at voters, voters yelling at volunteers. I had one woman demanding I put the ballot in an envelope and give it to her, while another woman on my other side was telling me not to use the envelope. "I need to stamp it," she says, and stamped it. Then: "Oh no, that's not the right stamp.

The Blog, which is sure to be updated with even worse tales of what are essentially, soft disenfranchisement, can be seen here.

As a reminder, New York, until this election, had one of the most reliable, cheapest, time-tested, fair and easy to use voting machines in the country. We had machines that went back more than half a century, could be maintained indefinitely, and were easy to set up by unskilled volunteer poll monitors.
My own personal experience, and that of my then-first-time-voting wife can be read
How voting ought to be: My 15 minute non-ordeal.

It isn't like we weren't warned by advocates of the old machines. In an article over a year ago, quoting Andrea Novak, founder of the Election Transparency Coalition:
"We're where lever machines were born, and if I have my way, it's not where they are going to die," said Andrea Novick, founder of the Election Transparency Coalition, who has been litigating on this issue."

The complete account of the fight at that time can be read here.

The Election Defense Alliance found that:
...the state revealed recently that it has found problems with 50 percent of the roughly 1,500 ImageCast optical-scan machines (shown in the video above) that Sequoia Voting Systems has delivered to the state so far -- machines that are slated to be used by dozens of counties in the state's September 9 primary and November 4 presidential election.

50%!!! We have never had anything close to that level of problems with the mechanical machines, and further, when they break down, it is obvious, and they can be quickly taken out of use, and then nearly as quickly repaired.

Interestingly, the expletive-frequented NY Board of Elections still shows the old voting machines on its website. Here are the instructions:
The Shoup Lever Voting Machine is a free-standing booth with privacy curtain. It provides a panel of levers that represent the choices available to the voter. To place a vote, the voter simply pulls the lever for the candidate or issue of their choosing. The machine keeps a tally of how many times each lever is pulled.

Yes, it really is that simple, and looking at the picture is all the instruction most voters, even those who don't speak English - New York is home to over 100 languages - need.

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Sadly, it may be too late to save the old machines, which have already started to be sold for scrap. Still, it is not too late to join any of the organizations listed above fighting to keep voting transparent and efficient.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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