An important milestone has been achieved by New York advocates of paper ballot based voting systems. On January 5, ES&S and Automark introduced an optical scanner and ballot marker compatible with New York and Connecticut's full face ballot requirement.
Up until now, no precinct based scanner or ballot marker supported NY's full face ballot, which displays all races and candidates on a single page in a grid format.
The growing calls for adoption of paper ballot/optical scanner from citizens all over NY has convinced at least one vendor that Scanners and Ballot Markers compatible with New York's ballot requirements must be made available.
We've achieved a crucial goal. Now there is a HAVA compliant paper ballot based system available to NY. Certification and adoption still lie ahead.
We still have a hell of a lot of work to do, but look how far we've come!
The ES&S Automark ballot marking device is a HAVA compliant device to be used with paper ballots and precinct-based optical scanners. Information about them can be found here at ES&S - Automark website.
New Yorkers for Verified Voting along with Democracy for the Hudson-Mohawk Region, the New York League of Women Voters and many other organizations have been working long and hard to rally to the cause of paper ballot/optical scan systems. This is a major step in achieving our goal of a valid, reliable, verifiable, auditable, and inexpensive voting system for New York.
In related news it appears that Connecticut may be sticking with the lever machines in 2006 rather than be rushed into purchasing unacceptable DRE, or Direct Recording Electronic machines, being pushed by the vendors. There is a good chance New York may not be ready to switch from the old machines in time for the 2006 elections either.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said the state will use its mechanical lever machines one more time, because no vendor offered a replacement that meets state and federal requirements.
"No matter what happens, we will be using lever voting machines in 2006," Bysiewicz said.
Her decision was praised by local voting officials and some academics who claimed that Connecticut's efforts to procure new voting technology was biased toward computerized voting machines.
Last month, an advocacy group called TrueVoteCt called on Bysiewicz to reopen the selection process to consider an improved version of an old technology - paper ballots counted by optical scanners.
They asked her to consider a ballot-marking device that allows disabled voters to fill out a paper ballot that can then be read by an optical scanner.
Bysiewicz refused, saying a delay would violate state purchasing rules and cause Connecticut to miss a Jan. 1 federal deadline.
The secretary of the state had been expected Wednesday to announce her selection of a new computerized machine that would comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, which renders obsolete the lever machines used by generations of Connecticut voters.
Instead, she disclosed that state officials learned on Dec. 21 that her tentative choice for a new machine was not certified as compliant under HAVA.
"We were misled by the finalist company, because they said they could meet all the requirements," Bysiewicz said.
In New York the process has been slanted towards DRE also. Yesterday's announcement by ES&S/Automark is a huge victory for both New York and Connecticut voters.
Now... if we can get the states to purchase them we'll be all set. To help out in that effort please see New Yorkers for Verified Voting to find ways to get involved locally.