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Statement on a New Voting System for New York State

New York State Endorsers
National Endorsers
Endorse the Statement on a New Voting System for New York State
Download a printable version of the statement

1) As New York State moves to replace our lever machines, we must choose a reliable, auditable, secure, accessible and cost effective voting system.
The system that best satisfies these requirements is one using paper ballots, counted either by hand or precinct based optical scanners. Ballot marking devices can provide accessible, private and independent voting for voters with disabilities and different language abilities.

Precinct based paper ballot/optical scan systems (PB/OS) will save many millions of dollars in acquisition and maintenance costs when compared to corresponding costs for DRE systems - and are far more reliable and trustworthy!

New Yorkers deserve reliable voting equipment that instills confidence and ensures transparent, publicly verifiable elections. Paper ballots and precinct based optical scan are auditable, accessible, and cost effective, and they provide protections against over-voting and under-voting. They must be the voting system we choose for New York.

2) Purchasing touch screen voting machines (DREs), even those equipped with voter verified paper ballots, would be an unwise choice for New York State.

  • DREs are not cost effective. The full face ballot DREs required by New York State are far more expensive than paper ballot/optical scan systems (PB/OS), and many more machines must be purchased and maintained. New York will save tens of millions of dollars in acquisition and maintenance costs with optical scan systems.
  • DREs are needlessly complex. Optically scanned ballots are familiar to anyone who has taken a standardized test. Contrast this with DRE interfaces which for many individuals, especially the elderly, can be difficult to comprehend and use.
  • DREs provide inferior verifiability compared to an optical scan system. DREs with VVPB require an additional, time consuming, and potentially difficult verification step that requires comparing the touch screen ballot to the smaller, harder to read thermally printed ballot. Paper ballot systems are inherently voter verified, requiring no separate verification step.
  • DREs provide inferior auditability compared to an optical scan system. The thermally-printed ballots produced by DREs with VVPB are difficult to read and handle. When recounts are required, they will be far more difficult for election officials to count and manage than a sturdy, easy to read optical scan paper ballot.
  • DREs require multiple ballot types. Even with DREs, absentee and affidavit ballots must still be printed, and the totals must be somehow added to the DRE results. With PB/OS systems, the same ballot is used for paper absentee ballots, which can all be scanned by the same optical scanner. There is no need for multiple systems.

3) Paper ballots counted either by hand or by precinct based optical scanners are a proven, mature, reliable, and auditable technology.

  • PB/OS systems are a proven, tested technology. PB/OS is currently used in 25% of all the precincts in the US. The states of Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio have all decided to use optical scanners to comply with the Help America Vote Act.
  • PB/OS systems are a reliable technology. A report by CAL TECH/MIT (Residual Votes Attributable to Technology), found that manually counted paper ballots have the lowest average incidence of spoiled, uncounted, and unmarked ballots, followed closely by optically scanned ballots. DREs had significantly higher average rates of spoiled, uncounted and unmarked ballots than any other systems.
  • PB/OS systems are easy to use and understand. Paper ballot systems are simple to fill out and inherently voter verified. The time voters spend in the voting booth will be greatly reduced, and training costs of poll workers and voters will be less because of the simplicity of the system.

4) Whenever computers are used in voting systems, whether they are DREs or optical scanners, the following safeguards are needed:

  • All software used in electronic voting and ballot tabulation equipment must be freely available for public examination.
  • Wireless communication devices in voting and tabulating equipment must be banned. Such devices allow malicious individuals or organizations to access and modify the software and tallies in the tabulating equipment.
  • Standards, procedures, and time-frames to guarantee voters and candidates the right to petition for and obtain manual recounts before certification of the winner of an election must be specified.
  • Surprise recounts in a statistically meaningful number of randomly selected precincts to compare optical scanner results to manual counts of the paper ballots, not just when vote counts are challenged.
  • A citizen's advisory committee, which shall at a minimum, include election officials, representatives of the disabled community, and independent computer professionals with no ties to voting machine vendors, must make recommendations for the choice of voting system for NYS.

Endorse the Statement on a New Voting System for New York State

Current Endorsers - New York State Organizations
New Yorkers for Verified Voting
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Citizen Action of New York
NAACP Syracuse Onondaga County Branch, Syracuse NY
SEIU Local 200 United, Syracuse, NY
Citizens for Voting Integrity, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Transparent Democracy, Westchester NY
Alliance for Democracy, Albany NY
Capital District chapter of Citizen Action of NY
Greater Corning-Elmira Chapter National Organization for Women, Elmira, NY
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Bethlehem NY
Finger Lakes Progressives, Watkins Glen NY
The Ithaca Action Network, Ithaca NY
Back to Democracy, Trumansburg NY
Committee for International Human Rights Inquiry, New York NY
Long Island Progressive Coalition, Huntington Chapter, Huntington NY
Action for Justice Committee, Community Church of New York
Saratoga Peace Alliance

Current Endorsers - National Organizations
The Verified Voting Foundation
Voters Unite
Unitarian Universalists for Verified Voting
Coalition for Visible Ballots
North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting
Equal Justice Foundation
National Ballot Integrity Project
Louisiana Counts

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