The Voting Integrity Project
A public interest initiative of The Peacemakers of Schoharie County
Po Box 214, Cobleskill, NY 12043
5 October 2007
New York State Board of Elections
Neil W. Kelleher, Co-Chairman
Douglas A. Kellner, Co-Chairman
Evelyn J. Aquila, Commissioner
Helena Moses Donohue, Commissioner
40 Steuben St.
Albany, NY 12207-2108
The Voting Integrity Project has reviewed the untitled document posted on the Board of Elections web page which is apparently a proposed regulation concerning Ballot Marking Devices. We have decided to not participate in the board’s quest for perfection in the wording of this tortured attempt to redefine a ballot marking device. Instead we will comment on the board’s performance in this whole affair.
A reader need go no further than the second paragraph to understand that these proposed "regulations" are actually an elaborate contrivance intended to facilitate the deployment of Direct Reading Electronic voting machines without first accomplishing the certification testing.
The following is excerpted from the New York State Board of Elections mission statement:
The State Board of Elections was established … [and] vested with the responsibility for administration and enforcement of all laws relating to elections in New York State.
It is obvious that the board is not honoring this element of their mission statement in proposing this regulation. Deploying these uncertified DRE voting machines will violate their previously adopted laws and regulations (ERMA and Title 9, subtitle V, Part 6209, Voting Machine Standards) which call for the machines to be fully tested and certified before they can be deployed. Additionally, the actual deployment will be in violation of the above cited rule resulting in subversion of the entire process.
Much has been said about the strong rules and high standards New York has set for the voting systems which will be certified. Indeed, election officials have frequently cited these high standards as cause for citizens to feel confident of the integrity of their vote. By so blatantly subverting their own testing process the board risks eroding citizen confidence, an effect also contrary to expressed goals such as this important element of the mission statement:
In addition to the regulatory and enforcement responsibilities the board is charged with the preservation of citizen confidence in the democratic process and enhancement in voter participation in elections.
The Voting Integrity Project is not privy to the genesis of this scheme or who it is intended to benefit. We can only look at the proposed action and submit our observations.
Clearly the proposed rules will benefit the machine vendors who might otherwise suffer some anxiety that their equipment will not be certified. The premature, and illegal, deployment of their machines essentially assures the "successful" completion of DRE certification testing. It also makes it possible for the vendors to sell some of their equipment as much as a year earlier than might otherwise be possible.
The county Election Commissioners, who despite all the evidence to the contrary remain uncritically committed to buying DRE electronic voting machines, will be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they have been successful ignoring public opinion and resisting paper ballot voting.
We also assume the United States Justice Department and the US District Court might be made more comfortable by having some sort of plan on file which they can point to and say "we did our job," however, we do hope they are able to look past the ostensible purposes of this plan and see the ill effects it will produce.
Our observations are that an important, indeed the primary, Board of Elections constituency has not been considered and will not be well served by this proposed rule. Voting machine vendors, local Election Commissioners, the state BOE itself perhaps and maybe the US Government entities they are engaged with might all be served in some fashion. The New York State electorate will not be! The proposed regulations fail to serve the "We the People" part of the formulation which is American democracy. For that failure we say shame on the Board of Elections.
The Voting Integrity Project appeals to the better judgment of the Election Commissioners and suggests that this proposed ballot marking device regulation not be adopted. It is the right thing to do for the voters of New York.
For the Voting Integrity Project,
Ps: In addition to the electronic delivery a hard copy of this communication will be delivered via the USPS.
Cc: Governor Eliot Spitzer, The State Capital, Albany, NY 12224
Glenn T. Suddaby, United States Attorney, Post Office Box 7198, Syracuse, NY 13261-7198
New York State Attorney General, Andrew Como, State Capital, Albany, NY 12224-0341