Saturday, December 17, 2005

New Voting Machines in New York State

Below is my testimony to the New York State Board of Elections Public Hearing on Voting System Standards on Tuesday December 13, 2005. These draft Standards can be found at

Over 2 dozen people testified, my testimony over covered a small portion of the concerns raised.

Send your own comments to the NYS BOE before January 21, 2006.
Phone: 518-474-1953
US Mail: NYS BOE, 40 Stuben ST, Albany NY 12207

Good Morning, my name is Jason Nabewaniec, I am here today both as the Co-Chair of the Green Party of Monroe County and as a representative of Metro Justice to the Every Vote Counts / Monroe coalition.

Our goal today is to provide the NYS BOE with public input to consider when determining the final requirements for certification of new voting machines to be used here in New York State.

The Help America Vote Act allows NYS to receive Federal funds if we update our vote process by doing away with the lever machines and replace them with a method that provides equal access for people with disabilities. The Federal Government is not empowered to mandate voting methods used by a State, however, meeting this Federal Act was put into action by our NYS Legislature so that we could receive he Federal money to improve our voting system.

My concern is the time frame in which we are currently working in. To receive these Federal funds we need to write and approve certification standards, test and certify machines (that are not currently complete in there design), have the machines manufactured and delivered in time for November 7th Federal Election.

I don't know why it has taken this long to get to this point, but this is the time table we are currently working in. In a good democracy the people determine the best voting process in which they wish to select their representatives. Here in New York State we have slowed down the process and bought into a timeline that puts us in a position where are electoral options are being held hostage by the Federal Government, and the 3 corporate vendors that have determined what machines they will choose to put up for certification.

Why is it that the corporate vendors and the DRE sales departments get a choice in how New Yorkers select there representatives, but 'We The People' only get asked which of these 2 or 3 is the lesser of two evils at the tail end of the process. Why are we being asked how to write certification requirements for these 3 corporate vendors rather than being asked three years ago what specifications should we write for the manufacturing of our new voting machines.

At this point we've seen that none of the machines brought before us meet our voting needs as outlined by our coalition. We could choose to do hand counted paper ballots that will improve the accuracy and integrity of our democracy, combined with the availability of optional electronic marking, for individuals with limited mobility or dexterity, and optical scan technology to provide voter verification for visually impaired individuals in every polling station. However, it seems likely that the NYS BOE will continue to rush through the process, continuing the claim that hand counted ballots takes too much time or too much effort. Yes, machines will accelerate the counting process, however, expedient does not mean democratic.

We need to instill integrity into the election process to build voter confidence.

We need to ensure that all machines no matter what format must be Full Face by Race, and not zoomed in where some candidates get cut out of view as some of the machines we have seen do.

We need the people to dictate democracy, the corporate sales department can be trusted to promote the vendors most profitable options.

We need the NYS BOE to be committed to not certifying any machine that fails to meet our standards of Secure, Accessible, Reliable / Mature, Transparent / Auditable, and cost effective. NYS BOE has not implemented HAVA in a manner appropriate for Democracy, please listen to the people, we can do better and we must do better. Thank You for Your Time.

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