Guest Blogged by Andi T. Novick, Esq.
New York is the last state in the nation to have a non-computerized, transparent voting system. We still use immutable, theft-deterring mechanical lever machines to count our votes. (* - Please seen bottom of this article for a quick explanation of how lever machines work, for those who may not know.)
New Yorkers are fighting to keep their current voting system, notwithstanding that New York's legislature passed a law in 2005 that says we should give up our observable, reliable levers in exchange for unreliable, concealed software-based vote counting machines. Nearly 1,800 New Yorkers have signed a petition, and three counties (Dutchess, Ulster, and Columbia, all PDFs), have passed resolutions to save New York's lever voting system.
The Association of Towns (half of New York's entire population lives in towns) recently passed a resolution to save the levers [PDF], and Nassau, Greene, and other counties are presently considering similar action to retain New York's lever voting system.
Moreover, reliable sources have confirmed for me that neither the Governor nor the Attorney General nor the State Legislature that passed the "Election Reform and Modernization Act" (ERMA) want to replace the levers anymore either (what politician would want to be responsible for choosing to cut essential programs for hungry children or the elderly, just to be able to replace our superior and affordable voting system with budget-breaking computers that are notoriously corruptible and defective?). But the State Legislature has not repealed ERMA and the Attorney General, to date, has supported the State (not the citizens).
So what is driving New York State to stick with a law that so many in New York believe to be such a bad idea? As a New Yorker who has been talking to many election commissioners, legislators and citizens, I was surprised to learn how many people believe the "Help America Vote Act" (HAVA) actually banned lever machines.
I read HAVA. It clearly does not ban levers. I recently discovered what has helped fuel this misinformed opinion in part: it is the discredited position of the discredited U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), as detailed in a newly-unearthed document prepared for the state of Pennsylvania, at their request, in regard to the legality of lever voting machines.
Although the agency is not a court of law, and not even an agency deserving of deference for its opinions --- its allegiance has clearly been shown to be not with either voters or democracy --- the "HAVA-banned-levers" rumor was given the imprimatur of the EAC through this little-noticed document...