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New York: Professors Call for Optical Scan Systems to Replace Lever Voting Machines PDF  | Print |  Email
By New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)   
November 29, 2007

Beware of computerized voting machines, paper-based optical scan systems are a better alternative

 

That's the message from more than 100 computer and social science faculty from universities across New York who signed on to a public letter to state policy makers. The letter was released today by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), as the state nears making a decision on how to replace its 20,000 mechanical lever machines.

 

"Optical Scan systems are inherently more secure, reliable and auditable than their ATM style touch screen counterparts," said Professor Ronald Hayduk of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, a noted author on election issues. "As educators in the social and computer sciences familiar with these new technologies, we thought it vital to speak out now before a decision is made," he added.

 

Under federal and state law mandates, New York is expected to replace its lever machines by 2009, though a federal court is currently reviewing the pace of the state's efforts. Currently, each County Board of Elections will be making that decision, choosing between optical scan and computerized touch screen systems. The letter urged that optical scan systems, where voters fill out their ballot by hand or with the assistance of an accessibility device, be adopted statewide.

 

"Computerized touch screen voting machines have been nothing but trouble," said Neal Rosenstein, an Election Specialist with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), who organized the letter. "New Yorkers deserve the best voting system available, not the one with the best lobbyist. It's a no-brainer, optical scan systems are the way to go," he added.

 

The list includes professors from more than 20 universities across the state including Columbia, Cornell & Syracuse and a number of State University and City University of New York campuses. (See the letter and endorsers.)

 

"We welcome the fact that New York's leading academics have urged New York to learn from the mistakes other jurisdictions have made in purchasing new voting machines in the last several years." said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. "As the Brennan Center's research has shown, New York cannot ensure that voter's choices will be accurately recorded if counties purchase the touch-screen machines the state is considering. We therefore join the state's leading University faculty in endorsing optical scan machines and ballot marking devices for all New Yorkers," he added.

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