Eyes Wide Open: The Real Situation in
By Dr. Wanda Warren Berry
Board of Directors, New Yorkers for Verified Voting
A moment finally arrived this Spring when it seemed
misinterpret court rulings: The articles at issue again and again say
that “…no court has ever interpreted
HAVA as requiring
In the light of these facts, it
seems that only some specious technicality could be used to justify a claim
that “no court has ever interpreted HAVA as requiring
seem to lack concern for accessible voting:
Part of the current argumentation for the retention of lever
machines involves asserting that, inasmuch as
3. The articles ignore practical, managerial, and legal problems embedded in their recommendations:
4. The articles ignore limitations of lever machines: While some of the criticisms of levers are acknowledged, scant weight is given to not only their failure to comply with ruling interpretations of HAVA, but to additional problems many voters find with them.
· Not only do voters with disabilities object to using a completely separate system, many voters know that levers have a history of stalling as the counters role over to the next 100. They have learned to want a record of their individual votes, which the EAC says HAVA requires and which the lever machines cannot provide. Often voters realize only after pulling the large levers to register their votes that they missed a race. If they had been marking a paper ballot in a privacy booth, they would have taken time to check the ballot and even get a new ballot if needed. In a primary, the voter sometimes finds only after having entered the machine and having started to vote that it is set for the wrong party. With paper, a wrong ballot can be perceived immediately and can be returned, voided if necessary, as the voter receives the right one. In addition, write-ins are particularly difficult on lever machines and nearly impossible for those who are short or who have visual limitations.
· The authors present false information about lever machines, claiming, e.g., that “Our lever voting system does create a piece of paper that can be audited.” Some of NY’s lever machines provide an imprint of the counters at the end of the election. Many do not. When available, the imprint is only of the totals. Current discussions of audits of elections assume the recounting of individual votes. There is no record of individual votes with a lever machine.
The 2007 Voluntary Guidelines from the National
Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST) recommend a software-independent
verification process. An analogous requirement for levers would be for some
kind of independent verification system that would reveal any errors in the
lever machine tabulation. None exists.
While one lever advocate acknowledges that “if
the lever machine fails or is tampered with there’s no trace of how the voter
voted,” she plays down this invisibility of the counting of the ballots in the
lever machine in order to stress what she calls “the unseen calculation of the optical
She does not explicate the efforts to establish careful pre-election testing of
machines and post-election protection of ballots through
5. The articles sponsor disparagement of the work of some officials and
other election integrity activists: Some advocates of the retention of
levers disparage the intention of
This “we’re not” is unjustified. Steps toward effective security and audits are being taken. Both officials and concerned citizens are working hard to discover and to implement effective systems for protecting the chain of custody of ballots and for audits.
Conclusion: Eyes Wide Open and Ready to Work:
New Yorkers for Verified Voting have shared from the
beginning the concern about electronic voting machines that drives the current “retain
the levers” movement. But we have learned that progress can be made through
pragmatic action, through coalitions of good government groups, and through persistent
effort. As a software engineer, our Executive Director was so concerned about
electronic voting that he resigned from his professional position five years
ago to volunteer to establish and lead NYVV.
With eyes wide open, he has
led us in the smart, step-by-step battle that
With eyes wide open, we knew from the beginning that a system based on voter-marked paper ballots would need to be paired with precinct-based scanners, in order to allow voters feedback as each individual submitted her ballot to the scanner. The purpose also was to reduce the likelihood of accidental or malicious mis-programming infecting large systems. With eyes wide open, we knew that the scanners would need to be checked not only through pre-election testing but through post-election audits. We worked for and got adopted what were then the strongest certification testing rules and audit requirements in the country.
With eyes wide open, we now are insisting that counties not be allowed to implement untested and uncertified scanners. With eyes wide open, we now are working with experts on a strengthened audit policy. With eyes wide open, our members are working to strengthen provisions for trained election inspectors and for poll watchers. With eyes wide open, we hope to find time to research and reveal to the public the exorbitant charges the vendors are levying for their inadequate equipment. With eyes wide open, we are urging voters to insistently check their registration in the voter database.
We ask other activists to recognize that New Yorkers for Verified Voting have our eyes wide open, are not naïve, and that our interest is in election integrity that might protect our democracy. WE are not your enemy. The enemy is the greed that may have caused companies to sign contracts that they could not fulfill without producing low quality equipment. New Yorkers should not have to rely upon and pay for shoddy equipment. Let’s work together to make sure that reliable equipment such as that used for almost twenty years in Oklahoma’s paper ballot scanner system is developed.
Contrary to Andi Novick’s repeated claims, the real situation in New York, is that the ship indeed has sailed, the court has ruled, the county commissioners have chosen. Let’s get on with it, insisting on better ballot markers and scanners!
Wanda Warren Berry, Ph.D.
Board of Directors, New Yorkers for Verified Voting
 See, e.g., Rady Ananda, “NY Loves Its Levers as New Systems Fail,” July 1, 2008. http://www.opednews.com/articles/NY-Loves-Its-Levers-as New-byRady-Ananda-0807-1-173.html
and “Bo Lipari’s Deceit on Voice of the Voters,” July 2, 2008, originally on OpEdNews at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Bo-Lipari-s-Deceit-on-Voic-by-Rady-Ananda-080702-581.html,
now at http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=203&topic_id=505042 on Andi Novick, “Eyes Wide Shut: New Yorkers Struggle for the Soul of Democracy,” July 7, 2008,
 Andi Novick and Rady Ananda, “Let’s Clear the Air,”
Andi Novick and Rady Ananda, “Let’s Clear the Air, July 7, 2008, 4.
 It should be easily recognizable that, even before the Court ruling, in the light of the 2005 EAC Advisory, NYVV had every reason to assume levers had to be replaced. In addition, we considered studies of problems with lever machines; some of these can be found a www.nyvv.org. We began to support the paper ballot scanner system once ballot-marking devices for those with special needs became available. Nevertheless, the posting on Democratic Underground of Ms. Ananda’s article accusing Bo Lipari of deceit has led to accusations that NYVV has arbitrarily or stupidly supported the paper ballot scanner system out of self-interest. See “Election Reform” at www.democraticunderground.com .
Novick and Ananda, “Let’s Clear the Air,” 3.
 Andi Novick, “EYES WIDE SHUT,” July 7, 2008, 2.
written before the development of the Image-Cast, much evidence about the
success of ballot markers can be found in
“Accessible Voting and Paper Ballot/Ballot Marker/Optical Scanner Voting
 Novick and Ananda, “Let’s Clear the Air,” 3.
 Novick, EYES WIDE SHUT, 6.
 Novick, EYES WIDE SHUT, 6.