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New York: DREs Lose Round Two PDF  | Print |  Email
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
February 18, 2008
Counties Choose Paper Ballots Despite Court Ruling

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
- Yogi Berra

Just 3 weeks ago, when we thought the ruling by the State Board of Elections had finally eliminated DREs from New York State after a long hard five year campaign, I used a Gandhi quote about grassroots movements. But the DRE vendors weren’t done fighting, and voters were dealt a setback when the State Supreme Court ruled that DREs must be allowed to be purchased by counties. Now, we’ve taken another important step to our goal. But this time, while searching for a quote to capture the true spirit of New York’s contorted, inside out journey to new voting machines, Yogi Berra seems more appropriate.

Earlier this month, Judge O’Connor overruled the decision of the State Board and allowed DREs to be selected by New York counties. But when the county choices were released on February 8 and reaffirmed on February 14, it showed the depth of support for paper ballots created by citizens in our long struggle. As it turned out, of New York’s 58 Boards of Elections, all chose Ballot Marking Devices compatible with paper ballots and scanners but for one -  Hamilton, the smallest, which ordered only 11 LibertyVote DREs.

This is very, very good news. For even though counties had the option, ordered by the Court, to choose DREs, they did not! This is a demonstration of the success of the work voting integrity advocates did educating the public, election commissioners and the media. In the end, the commissioners chose paper not because they had to, but because they wanted to. That’s pretty huge and says a lot about how deep our success has been.

But, just like Yogi said, it ain’t over till it’s over, and friends, it ain’t over yet.


First of all, Judge O’Connor has required the State Board of Elections to extend the county machine selection deadline yet another four days, until Tuesday, February 19, giving the counties more time to change their selection to the Avante or LibertyVote DREs. But since they reaffirmed their choices last week, I don’t think any counties really want to change anything - they just want to move forward and get the new systems in place. More ominously however, don’t think for a minute that LibertyVote and Avante are done trying to stop this in any way they can.

But if every county in the state has unequivocally stated that they do not want DREs, can DRE vendors force them to do so through the Courts? Indeed they might, for this is the way hardball is played in rough and tumble New York. DRE vendors have put in way too much money to stop now. As you read this, LibertyVote’s lawyers are being paid $300 an hour to come up with something, anything, to salvage their hopes of dipping into New York State’s HAVA pot of gold.

The State Board does not formally authorize the use of the Ballot Markers until February 27, after testing is complete. Purchase Orders will be issued the following day by OGS. LibertyVote has successfully challenged the Boards’ authority to rule on acceptable systems once before, and with the right judge, who is to say they can’t do it again?

New York citizens should be proud of what we’ve accomplished! After five years of our labor every election commissioner in New York State but two have been convinced that paper ballots, ballot marking devices and scanners are a better choice than DREs. This is a tremendous achievement against impossible odds, and a testament to the power of citizen advocacy.

But let’s not get complacent and count the DRE vendors out yet, since as Yogi taught us, it could be “Deja vu all over again”.
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