Thursday, December 31, 2009

Addabbo Applauds State Election Board’s Certification Of Optical Scan Voting Machines by John Toscano | Queens Gazette

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The recent decision by the New York state Board of Elections to certify new optical scan voting machines is a “momentous occasion that begins a new era of voting” in our state, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. declared.

Addabbo, chairman of the senate Elections Committee, said the state board had engaged in a long and meticulous process over a period of about three years during which they examined every aspect of the programming and operation of these machines.

This included, he said, “reviewing millions of lines of code to make sure that they are trustworthy and accurate”. These machines, Addabbo continued, “have been tested harder and were subjected to more requirements than any system in the nation, and the voters of the state of New York should feel confident that they will produce accurate and reliable results.”

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) stated, “The testimony and the reports we have received, and the audits of results produced by the machines, revealed that they accurately recorded and reported the ballot selections made by the voters.”

The lawmaker noted further, “The optical scan technology also preserves voters’ ballots, commonly referred to as a ‘paper trail’, ensuring the ability to conduct an accurate recount as necessary.”

A Board of Elections (BOE) spokesman confirmed that Addabbo’s information about the board study of the optical scan voting machines, which complied with the help America Vote Act, was correct.

The BOE spokesman said the machines had been tested by a national federal laboratory in Denver, Colorado, “and then we did our own testing in several cities in the state”.

The spokesman said the BOE recommended certification at its December Board meeting. Certification indicates the machines comply with federal requirements and are considered capable of meeting the demands presented by an actual election.

The two machines certified were manufactured by the Dominion Company based in Canada and the firm E.S.&S of Omaha, Nebraska.

The BOE spokesman said that the New York City Board of Elections had not yet purchased any of the machines, but most cities north of Westchester County had acquired them. The state Office of General Services negotiated the purchases with Dominion.

The BOE spokesman did not know the total number of machines purchased thus far, the total cost or individual unit costs.

Addabbo said that the senate Elections Committee, in the exercise of its oversight powers, had held hearings and taken testimony from elections commissioners, the machine manufacturers and interested members of the public regarding the machines and their performance in a pilot program in 47 of the state’s 62 counties.

“While some concerns have been expressed regarding privacy because of the layout of the poll sites, as well as difficulties some poll workers have had in operating these machines, these are easily curable election management issues that have nothing to do with the reliability of these machines,” Addabbo said.

Addabbo stated that he was confident that the pertinent issues he and his committee had addressed during the oversight hearings will be considered and that the optical scan voting machines “will ensure that every vote is counted on Election Day, and counted accurately”.