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New York

Good News for New York PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
August 19, 2008
This article was posted at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

New York State’s new voting systems are failing certification testing. The two systems undergoing testing for use in 2009 are showing large numbers of defects against New York requirements, have as yet unresolved design and manufacturing issues, and during the initial stages of my source code review I found a software back door that would allow a rogue program to load from an inserted memory card. What’s not to like?

Now, you may be thinking that these all sound like bad things. And of course, on one level they absolutely are. As I’ve written about in earlier posts, what gall vendors have providing New York’s voters with such flawed equipment, sold at astronomical prices, and which have apparently not undergone basic quality assurance testing before being shipped. So what’s the good news? The good news is that we’re identifying problems priorto use in an election - the machines are failing New York’s tests.

Unlike the situation in so many other states, where inadequately tested machines are approved by private companies working for system vendors with no independent review, New York State has changed the rules of the game. Here, we require rigorous testing to the highest standards. Here, we have independent review of not only the machine vendors, but of the vendor performing the testing. Here, we have a Citizens Advisory Committee which has access to the systems and provides advice and analysis to the State Board. Because of this, New York State will not use these machines until such time as they meet the standards required by law and regulation. In other words, the process is working.
New York: Tell it to the Judge PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
August 04, 2008
State Board informs Court of schedule delay

This article was posted at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

As I reported in my last post, problems encountered during New York State’s tough certification testing has caused the timeline for the 2009 rollout of state’s new voting machines to slip. Now the State Board of Elections has notified the Court that it will not be possible to complete testing on schedule and deploy the new machines in time for the September 2009 primary, as the Court has ordered.

The state, in its July 25 Status Report to Judge Gary Sharpe for the first time gives formal notice that:

“Overall, activities and progress toward HAVA compliance are in jeopardy…”

“For the first time, and after affirmatively representing that the time line for certification testing could still be met as recently as July 17, 2008, the most recent weekly status meeting, on July 24, 2008 SysTest admitted that it was behind schedule and would not make the October 1, 2008 certification testing completion date.”

Why did this happen?
New York: Schedule Slips and Slippery Slopes PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
July 24, 2008
Voting Machines Can’t Meet NY Standards in Time for 2009

This article was posted at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

It’s become obvious that New York State’s new voting systems will not be able to complete New York State certification testing in time for the scheduled 2009 rollout. The state sets the highest bar in the nation for approval of voting machines, one that vendors have never been required to meet before. Their performance in New York demonstrates that they are a long, long way from understanding that the public will not stand for poorly designed, badly tested and outrageously overpriced equipment, and a business philosophy of let the customer be damned.

In its July 24 status report SysTest, the contractor performing the state’s testing noted the serious problems and risks to the testing schedule, and cite the reasons that “NYSBOE’s ability to meet its court-mandated timeline for complete and thorough testing is at significant risk for the reasons described below”. Some of the reasons demonstrate the complete lack of quality control on the part of the vendors before they send systems out to New York’s certification site.
Not Ready for Prime Time PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verifie Voting   
July 07, 2008
Nassau County Refuses to Accept More Failing Systems

You would have thought that since there have been so many documented problems in other states over the years that voting machine vendors would have gone out of their way to make sure new systems being deployed in the Empire State were thoroughly tested, met all state requirements, and worked flawlessly.

At a minimum, you would expect that any business fulfilling a enormous, multi-million dollar contract to a new client would make sure the systems were, well, at least operational. But, incredibly, you would be wrong. The machines which ES&S and Sequoia are providing to New York State are failing initial testing at a rate which would astound anyone – unless you’ve been following the voting machine industry for the last 10 years.<

I discussed these problems on my July 2, 2008 Voice of the Voters radio program with my guest, Bill Biamonte, Election Commissioner of Nassau County, the second largest Board of Elections in the state which serves over 870,000 voters. In a letter to Judge Gary Sharpe on June 26, who ordered New York State to complete its Help America Vote Act implementation by 2009, Nassau County reports the unbelievably high failure rates they’re finding in the systems they’ve received:

“…of the 156 BMDs [Ballot Marking Devices] received by Nassau through June 26, 2008-after the SBOE acceptance tested them in Albany-have substantial operational flaws that render them unusable or that require major repairs. 29 were rejected immediately when they were unloaded from the truck because of obvious physical defects or damages, such as a broken side of the printer. 62 failed diagnostic testing because of problems with the USB cord and the printer. And 42 failed Nassau’s acceptance testing for a variety of reasons, such as nonresponsive key pads and battery failure. Out of a total of 156 BMDs, only 23 can be used by voters in the condition they were received in.”
New York: Ulster County Considers Using Untested Scanners PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verifie Voting   
July 02, 2008
This article was posted at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Will Ulster County Use Untested Machines in 2008?

In my last post, I noted the four crucial areas that we’ll need to focus on in the coming months. One of them, oversight of New York State’s voting systems, is a constant task. Here’s today’s example.

At its June 19 meeting the State Board of Elections announced that Ulster County is considering using uncertified scanners in this year’s Presidential election as a “demonstration project”. Let me be perfectly clear - voting systems which have not completed and passed New York State’s strict certification requirements must not be used in any election.

A decision to use any voting system which has not completed testing and is not certified by New York State­ would be an egregious error that will disenfranchise Ulster County voters. NYVV and the League of Women Voters sent a letter urging Ulster County election commissioners to seriously consider the reasons that using an untested system would be an extremely bad idea.
What’s Next For New York? PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verifie Voting   
June 18, 2008
DREs may be gone, but there’s much to do

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, wonder no more. After the dust finally settled and DREs were no longer an option in New York, I took a little time off to rest, attended several State Board of Elections meetings, observed acceptance testing of the new Ballot Marking Devices in Albany, and contemplated NYVV’s focus for Phase Two of our campaign for election integrity. And make no mistake about it, there is still so much that we need to do.

Fighting off DREs and making it possible for New Yorkers to vote on paper ballots was an essential first step in our struggle. We needed to win the fight for paper ballots in order to have software independence and a means to audit the results reported by the scanners. The battle for paper ballots turned out to be a longer struggle than anyone anticipated – five long years. But we stuck it out, we fought hard and never let up, and we won. But sweet as this victory was my friends, it was only Phase One.

In one way, Phase One was easy because we were focused, indeed we needed to focus, on one issue and one issue only – paper ballots for New York. Now, in our new HAVA mandated environment, we no longer have that luxury since there are several important areas that require attention as we continue our work for election integrity.
LibertyVote Leaves New York PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
April 23, 2008
Last of the DREs pull outs of the Empire State

It is now official. Liberty Election Systems has withdrawn their DRE from the New York State and has informed the State Board of Elections that they will not pursue further certification testing or fill their one current order. LibertyVote was promoting the Dutch Nedap DRE in New York State, but needed to post another $750,000 bond to cover the costs of ongoing certification testing as required by state regulations. Apparently LibertyVote and their partner Nedap decided it was time to stop throwing good money after bad and pulled the plug. LibertyVote/Nedap was the only remaining vendor offering a DRE in New York. The move represents the end of an era in New York State, and could be a harbinger for what lies ahead in the rest of the nation.

From way back in 2002, voting machine vendors were licking their lips at New York’s big $220 million dollar chunk of the HAVA pie. And right from the start they pitched the idea that “New York State was a DRE state”, a phrase which pretty much everyone bought into except for the citizen advocates who fought a long hard campaign to overcome this ‘accepted wisdom’.

The DREs pitched in New York, while sharing all the same problems and vulnerabilities of models used in other states, had a unique requirement – the touch screen needed to be very, very, very large, to accommodate New York’s full face ballot, resulting in a typically huge machine that weighed hundreds of pounds; was difficult to transport and store; and begged the question – what’s it going to cost to replace that big touch screen?

The Law, Litigation, and LibertyVote PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
April 22, 2008
Vendor to sue NY again to allow DREs

This article was posted on Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I told you the DRE vendors are like zombies, and will never, ever stop trying to force DRE machines on New York State voters. Once again, LibertyVote and their Dutch partner Nedap are preparing to go to Court to challenge county purchases for accessible paper ballot systems, and to overturn New York State’s right to test our voting machines to the strict standards we worked so hard to achieve.

On Thursday, March 20, the Cattaraugus county Board of Elections informed the State Board that they wanted to change the order placed last month for 57 Ballot Marking Devices, and instead want to substitute LibertyVote DREs for the paper ballot systems. This is an astonishing request for several reasons – for one, orders have already been placed for the ballot markers and contracts have been completed, signed and sealed; and for another, the LibertyVote DRE has yet to undergo any testing whatsoever! Yes, that’s right, testing to New York’s rigorous standards has not yet even started, and won’t be completed until this summer at the earliest. But Cattaraugus county is telling the State Board they want to purchase the LibertyVote DRE now, essentially asking them to bypass all testing and simply approve the machine at the next Board meeting on Wednesday, March 26.

The Cattaraugus letter, signed by the county commissioners (and obviously prepared by LibertyVote/Nedap’s lawyers) lays out the vendor’s litigation strategy and arguments to the Court if the State Board refuses the county request to allow them to switch from paper ballots to an uncertified DRE. My guess - if the State Board turns down this outrageous request at the next meeting, LibertyVote/Nedap will be back in State Supreme Court before the close of business asking that New York’s certification testing be canceled and their DRE immediately approved for purchase. And based on their past success in this Court, why wouldn’t they?
Accessible Voting and New York PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
March 12, 2008
This article was posted at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Board Ignores Advice from Citizen Committee

On February 27 the New York State Board of Election Commissioners voted to approve four systems for use as ballot marking devices (BMDs) in 2008. In evaluating the machines, the Board used functional test reports performed by SysTest, and an advisory report prepared by the Citizens Election Modernization Advisory Committee (CEMAC). The CEMAC report recommended that two AutoMARK models and the ImageCast systems be approved. But the committee advised that the Avante and LibertyMark machines were unusable by voters with disabilities, and should not be approved by the Board.

CEMAC was established by the New York State Legislature to advise the State Board of Elections on the adoption of new voting systems. Members includes advocates for the disabled as well as county election commissioners from both major parties. I am a member of CEMAC, appointed by the League of Women Voters of New York State, participated in the evaluations, and drafted the report. Our findings were based on evaluations of the systems being considered by the state that we performed in the last several months. After several evaluation sessions, the committee unanimously recommended that the LibertyMark machine NOT be authorized for use as it was not usable by the vast majority of voters with disabilities.

New York: DREs Lose Round Two PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
February 18, 2008
Counties Choose Paper Ballots Despite Court Ruling

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
- Yogi Berra

Just 3 weeks ago, when we thought the ruling by the State Board of Elections had finally eliminated DREs from New York State after a long hard five year campaign, I used a Gandhi quote about grassroots movements. But the DRE vendors weren’t done fighting, and voters were dealt a setback when the State Supreme Court ruled that DREs must be allowed to be purchased by counties. Now, we’ve taken another important step to our goal. But this time, while searching for a quote to capture the true spirit of New York’s contorted, inside out journey to new voting machines, Yogi Berra seems more appropriate.

Earlier this month, Judge O’Connor overruled the decision of the State Board and allowed DREs to be selected by New York counties. But when the county choices were released on February 8 and reaffirmed on February 14, it showed the depth of support for paper ballots created by citizens in our long struggle. As it turned out, of New York’s 58 Boards of Elections, all chose Ballot Marking Devices compatible with paper ballots and scanners but for one -  Hamilton, the smallest, which ordered only 11 LibertyVote DREs.

This is very, very good news. For even though counties had the option, ordered by the Court, to choose DREs, they did not! This is a demonstration of the success of the work voting integrity advocates did educating the public, election commissioners and the media. In the end, the commissioners chose paper not because they had to, but because they wanted to. That’s pretty huge and says a lot about how deep our success has been.

But, just like Yogi said, it ain’t over till it’s over, and friends, it ain’t over yet.

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