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. 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.
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. 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. 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:
Rensselaer Co. NY absentee ballot (Michael P Farrell, TimesUnion.com)
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. 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.
For an historical overview of the century-old paper vs. lever battle, see Machining the Vote by technology-and-society professor, Brian Pfaffenberger.
1956 New Yorker cover (Arthur Getz), collecting vote totals from a lever machine
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.
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 šs order. (emphasis added)
We owe special thanks to Congressman Jose' 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
To take action, see Save Our Levers.