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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 3/11/09

Obama's Omnibus Appropriations Act May Save Lever Voting System

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Analysis from Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections on the effect of HR 1105 as pertains to election technology is reproduced in full below. Â Douglas Kellner suggests that the Act, which extends the deadline for states to use federal funds to modernize voting systems, can also be read to extend New York's timeline as ordered by Judge Sharpe in the Dept of Justice lawsuit against New York. Â

By the tone of the release, New York fully intends to exchange its reliable lever voting system with expensive, fragile, and non-securable computerized voting systems. Â All those in favor of a publicly observable voting system that counts all ballots mechanically will be forced to ramp their efforts to save the lever. Â But they have a little more breathing room, now. The September 2009 deadline may extend to November 2010.

This NY ballot from last November shows one of the myriad ways to defraud a paper system - subliminally in this example:

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Another issue with paper is ballot box stuffing - notorious throughout paper ballot history. Lyndon B. Johnson's 1948 Senate race in Texas is the most notable. (See Ballot Box 13 by Mary Kahl.)  We exclusively uncovered a ballot-stuffing slot built right into the $12,000 Sequoia/Dominion Ballot Marking Device. (See 2-minute video.)

The machines - built for New York and untried anywhere else in the world - also have internet access ports despite NY law banning internet access capability. Â This BMD optical scanner can easily be hybridized into a touch screen voting system, as well, which Florida activists questioned when the machine was initially marketed in Florida.Â

For an historical overview of the century-old paper vs. lever battle, see Machining the Vote by technology-and-society professor, Brian Pfaffenberger.

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Statement from Douglas Kellner, Co-Chair NY SBOE:

Earlier today President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009. (HR 1105).

Section 625 of the law amended the Help America Vote  102(a)(3)(B) to extend the deadline for using federal funds to replace lever voting systems to the first federal election held after November 1, 2010.

This means that the State Board of Elections should now be in a position to release to the counties their shares of the $50 million of Title I HAVA funds appropriated specifically for the replacement of lever voting systems.  (This will require formal action on the part of the state commissioners.)

Although this is very welcome news, the law does not change the substantive provisions of HAVA section 301, 42 USC  15481, which continues to have an effective date of January 1, 2006, and which some argue forms part of the basis for Judge Sharpe's order that New York replace the lever machines for the September 2009 primary. Â

I would hope, however, that Congress's recognition of the obstacles to certification of voting systems to replace the lever machines would have a significant influence on the US Department of Justice and Judge Sharpe to modify the court s order. (emphasis added)

We owe special thanks to Congressman Josà Serrano, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, for shepherding this extension through the legislative process, and to Governor Paterson's Washington Office, and, of course, we thank all of the members of our Congressional delegation for their support.

Douglas A. Kellner

New York State Board of Elections


To take action, see Save Our Levers.Â

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In 2004, Rady Ananda joined the growing community of citizen journalists. Initially focused on elections, she investigated the 2004 Ohio election, organizing, training and leading several forays into counties to photograph the 2004 ballots. She officially served at three recounts, including the 2004 recount. She also organized and led the team that audited Franklin County Ohio's 2006 election, proving the number of voter signatures did not match official results. Her work appears in three books.

Her blogs also address religious, gender, sexual and racial equality, as well as environmental issues; and are sprinkled with book and film reviews on various topics. She spent most of her working life as a researcher or investigator for private lawyers, and five years as an editor.

She graduated from The Ohio State University's School of Agriculture in December 2003 with a B.S. in Natural Resources.

All material offered here is the property of Rady Ananda, copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Permission is granted to repost, with proper attribution including the original link.

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Tell the truth anyway.

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