Report: As Many As 40K Votes Went Uncounted in 2010 New York State Elections

According to a damning new report from the Democracy Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, thousands of New York votes were voided in the 2010 elections because people were confused by the optical scan voting machine's instructions. The study says that across New York State, 20,000 votes for governor were uncounted and the same thing happened to between 30,000 and 40,000 votes for other candidates.

The problem was that if you picked too many candidates ("overvoting"), you would see this screen:

Old Overvote Message Page F.jpg
NYU Brennan Center for Justice

The authors of the report explained the issue to WNYC:

More »

Did You Vote in the General Election? Polls Open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Today

Screen shot 2011-11-08 at 9.05.50 AM.png
Did you know that today is the general election? Find out your polling site, and if you're eligible to vote, by calling (866) 868-3692, or by going to the City of New York Board of Elections site. You can also download a sample ballot there. NY Capitol News indicates some races to watch, in Westchester, Yonkers, Staten Island, and Suffolk and Eerie Counties.

More »

Happy People Are More Likely to Vote

It seems counterintuitive, maybe, but according to a recent study of 1,300 people to be published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, those who are "contented" are more likely to vote than those who are unhappy. Further, unhappy people are not more likely to participate in political protests, to volunteer, to contribute to candidates, and the like. There's little evidence that participating in politics makes you happier -- but people who were more satisfied with their lives had a greater chance of getting involved in politics. So, what does this mean for the Tea Party? [Newswise]

How to Vote in New York City: Do Not Follow the Instructions New York City Gives You

Democracy is a complex process! Never more so, apparently, than in New York City, where our Primary Elections last month turned into a complete and utter shitshow to the nth degree. So, how exactly, is one supposed to vote in New York City? Do we really need instructions to vote?

More »

New York State Gives Voting Booths the Boot

Primary elections are today, and one thing is notably absent in New York: voting booths. Instead, voters will use SAT-style bubble forms to select candidates. This way, computers will count the votes, and, unlike the old curtain and lever booths, this system will leave a paper trail if a recount is necessary. It's merely a shift in methodology, but with all such changes, dissenters will likely act as if it's a slight to our democracy.

More »

Board of Elections Picks New Voting Machines; Scanners Go In This September

The Board of Elections has finally picked a supplier for new, state-of-the-art voting machines for New York City: Elections Systems and Software of Omaha.

Our own Julie Bolcer reviewed their machine and those of competitors last Februrary. ES&S makes paper ballot optical scan (PBOS) machines, which both scan paper ballots marked by the voter and collect the originals in case hanky-panky is suspected. They're considered safer and less suspicious than touch-screen machines and the like.

More »

Considering the Alternative, New York Holds Onto Its Old-Fashioned Voting Machines

New York City, Nassau, and Westchester Counties have refused to participate in a state pilot program to test out optical scan voting machines.

While the rest of the country continues to adopt electronic voting machines -- even though they've been proven faulty when it comes to actually counting votes -- New York City is among final hold-outs. Local officials are clinging to the clunky lever machines that have been around since the sixties. The attitude is: Don't fix what ain't broken, especially when the new option is pretty broken itself.

Electronic and optical scan voting machines, according to Princeton technology professor Andrew Appel, are vulnerable to tampering by hackers. (Appel would know: A few years ago he bought a bunch of machines for his students, who easily hacked into them). Though they are required to be retrofitted with printers, we all know how often printers run out of ink and malfunction. Some states, such as New Jersey, have refused to certify the machines.

Three years ago, the Department of Justice actually sued the state, saying New York was the furthest-behind of all states in complying with the 2002 Help America Vote Act. (This wasn't all about the technology: The Justice Department was upset that New York hadn't spent millions of dollars in federal aid to modernize it. That may have as much to do with bureaucratic slowness as it does to do with some principled opposition to machines that could thwart the voting process.) Image (cc) mamasmusings.

NY State's Latest Electronic Voting Machine Debacle

New York State's new voting machines are failing in mass, two years after a federally mandated deadline for installing the machines for access by the disabled, and eight years after the Florida election recount debacle. Wired's ThreatLevel blog reports that New York State found flaws in 50% of voting machines supplied by Sequoia Voting Systems. Only certain New York counties selected to use the Sequoia machines, but big problems have turned up when machines have arrived visibly broken, too finicky to use, or mysteriously inoperative. In Nassau County, voting officials found problems with 85% of machines, including visible damage to 20%, which they rejected outright, prior to any testing. Many problems revolve around the machine's printers, a key component for ensuring access to the disabled.

More »

How $2 Million Could Derail Open-Source Voting Machines in NY Elections

Categories: Voting Machines

These dinosaurs have got to go. But will the replacement voting machines be worse?

By John DeSio

A Long Island technology firm might just have the solution to bring fair elections, free from corporate greed and malicious manipulation, to New York State. And they’re willing to give it away for free. But the State Board of Elections' $2 million testing fee might keep money in the way of preserving the democratic process.

There may still be hope for the company, Open Voting Solutions, which has found a champion in Brooklyn City Council Member Darlene Mealy and numerous voting rights activists, all of whom are pushing for the company to see the fee waived as the first step towards eliminating the influence of the three major voting machine corporations, Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold), Election Systems & Software, and Sequoia Voting Systems, on elections in the State.

More »