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First-hand account of Rockland, NY voting machine demo

By Allegra Dengler, Citizens for Voting Integrity  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)     Permalink
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There were big crowds at the voting machine vendor demonstrations in Rockland yesterday (Mar 8). When I arrived there was a line of over 20 people just to get into the room. Lots of silver-haired poll workers. Lots of people from the Rockland Board of Elections to help people. Ran into Margaret, also saw Scannapieco, talked to a couple people from the office of Westchester EC Carolee Sunderland who said there will be a Westchester demo day on Mar 30 at the County Center.

The overall impression in the large gym-like room was that there were a lot of large computer voting machines. The scanners (there were two) are so small people couldn't even see them by contrast. People clustered around the DREs trying them out after the demos. No-one tried out the scanners (they are so easy, nothing to really show off-you just fill out your ballot, put it in the slot. But even that was not demonstrated. No privacy booths for instance.) The Sequioa vendor was more interested in showing off the bells and whistles of the DREs, the scanner was pretty much ignored when it came time for people to try out the machines.

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The ES&S scanner was with the Automark demonstrator. That confused people because they don't know what the connection is, they think the Automark ballot marker is some kind of computer. Nobody tried out either device.

Suggestion for the Westchester demo-hand out flyers outside the event. Some balance is much needed. This was basically a demo of DREs, with the scanners there but ignored.

The Automark demonstrator was knowledgeable but it was a very noisy room and hard to hear anything. He said that right now New York is just looking for an ADA device like the Automark for HAVA compliance, and that the choice for the scanners or DREs is next year. (So don't bother looking at the scanner?) Said NY doesn't know what they want to do yet on "tabulation". "If not nationally certified, no state can certify". In response to a concern raised, said that you can't stack the ballot box with counterfeit ballots, because the ballots have marks on them that can't be counterfeited. He said 30% of the states voted on paper ballots/optical scan before HAVA, now 50%. Costs $5K per Automark and $5K per scanner, only one scanner per polling place, need a lot more DREs, which cost a lot more.

The ES&S iVotronic demonstrator showed how the huge contraption folds up and down. Spent some time initializing it. Said in a real election that a "machine custodian" sets that kind of thing up weeks before the election. I asked if the machine custodian was a county employee or working for the company, he said county employee. The people oohed and aahed over the fact that you can enlarge the print size to see it better, they like the enlarged ballot feature. Q How long does it take to vote? A. Just as long as a lever machine. (He ignored the part about verifying your paper trail.) Q (Me) Who counts the paper trail? A Canvassers. Q What if it breaks down? A Go to paper ballot.

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IVS Inspire Vote-by-phone system vendor said if there is no phone in the polling place, you can use a cell phone with a special hook-up.

I talked to a Rockland official. She was dead set against scanners. "They jam." I said, go look at the scanner the Automark guy has. Ask him how it works. The voter scans in the ballot, you don't feed in a lot of ballots at once, it doesn't jam. Just go look at it, talk to the guy that works for ES&S that is demonstrating it. She walked in the other direction. These people are determined to live in their alternate universe where facts don't matter. "Scanners jam, that's all there is to it." And "we don't have to deal with paper with the DREs." And "Saddam Hussein caused 9/11."

She also said the handicapped don't like the Automark, based on one person who has trouble with his hands who has come to all the demos (?) and likes the DREs.

They demonstrated the following systems (notes are from vendors):

1. AVC Full face ballot-this machine will have an actual paper ballot with audio
2. AVC-L this is the full face touch screen. This will have the cut and drop printer, audior, sip and puff
3. insight optical scan machine

1. model 100-optical scan ballot tabulator
2. automark voter assistance terminal
3. iVotronic LS-full face DRE tabulator

1. AutoMark voter assit terminal (VAT)

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Part of this system includes the absentee ballot counter

Liberty Election Systems
1. LibertyVote-Model ESU1
Fullface DRE. The LibertVote is currently certified to the FVSS2002 standards
1. Model ELECTronic 1242 Voting System

1. Inspire Vote-by-phone system

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