The following fifteen claims and responses have been collected by
members of New Yorkers for Verified Voting. The responses have been extensively
researched and links to documentation are provided
You may choose to browse through the claims or click on the table
of contents links to go directly to specific claims.
Click here for this report of claims and corrections in
portable document format [PDF] suitable for printing
Contents by Claim
scanners cannot be certified in NYS
- Meaningless to discuss without certification
- Choice is about administration - leave to BOEs
- Paper ballots will be a large cost to counties
- PBOS is unworkable due to ballot storage
- PBOS will be too difficult for voters
- EAC rules out equipment other than DREs
- Voters will find it too difficult to mark paper
- NY legislation solves the DRE verification problem
- Optical scanners are also computers
- PBOS system does not protect ballot privacy
- PBOS advocates underestimate systems needed
- Advocates of PBOS are motivated by financial interest
- Advocates of PBOS are needlessly suspicious of DREs
- Certification must conclude before considering alternatives
Claim No. 1:
Optical scanners cannot be certified in New York State because they
are unable to handle the full-face ballot required in New York.
Several counties in Connecticut are using full face ballot optical
scanners, so full face capable scanners do exist. Other models of
precinct based optical scanners require a minor firmware modification
to enable them to recognize the larger grid required by a full
face ballot. This is not a difficult change and could be quickly
and easily implemented by vendors.
In order to sell their Direct Recording Electronic voting machines
(DREs), vendors have promised to install a voter verified paper ballot
(VVPB). They should apply this same willingness to meet New York
State requirements with their optical scan equipment, which they
have exhibited around the state.
It is not difficult to make a scanner recognize a full face ballot.
Samples are available of an optical scan full face ballot that was
used in the 2004 presidential election in Brooklyn, NY for the central
count scanners used for absentee ballots.
Claim No. 2 :
It is meaningless to discuss the Paper Ballot plus Optical Scanning
(PBOS) voting system at this time, since no scanners have been submitted
for certification in New York State.
As of early September 2005 NO voting equipment has been submitted for
certification in New York under the June 2005 legislation. Some of
the DREs under consideration are not yet equipped with Voter Verified
Paper Ballots (VVPB), a required feature under New York’s Election
Reform and Modernization Act.
Claim No. 3:
The choice of a voting system is primarily about the administration
of elections; therefore, it is a matter for Boards of Elections to
resolve on the basis of their managerial concerns.
The primary values that should inform the choice of a voting system
are accuracy, reliability, transparency, verifiability, and security.
Only if these values are guaranteed by the system will voters have
confidence in our democracy. The PBOS system has been proven superior
with regard to these primary values.
Claim No. 4:
Paper ballots will be a large, recurring annual cost to counties.
While election commissioners in New York have said the cost of one
ballot might be as much as $1.25, a survey of states using PBOS reveals
that straightforward black and white ballots, printed digitally, will
cost less than 30 cents per ballot. In some states the price is as
low as 10 cents.
NY’s bargaining power should be able to move
the price more in this direction. When assessing such costs, one should
keep in mind that counties like Miami-Dade Florida have encountered
maintenance costs for DREs far exceeding those predicted.
with DREs include higher maintenance and replacement expenses as
well as in the need for larger climate-controlled and secure storage
space. The DRE system also must include the cost of paper ballots for
absentee, military and provisionary voting and the paper and ink supplies
for the voter-verification panels.
Claim No. 5:
The PBOS system is unworkable because of the required 22 month
storage of ballots after an election.
The ATM-type slips or rolls of paper from the voter verification panels
of the DREs also will require storage for 22 months. This may require
special conditions so that photo-sensitive paper does not deteriorate.
Any additional space required to store the larger and more readable
PBOS ballots will be minimal compared to the greater storage space
requirements for the DREs.
Claim No. 6:
The Paper Ballot plus Optical Scan system will seem unfamiliar
and difficult to voters.
The 2002 Caltech/MIT study of "Residual Votes Attributable to
Technology" paid attention to years when there were switches
in voting technology and concluded: "Levers and paper and scanned
ballots appear to offer similar rates of reliability" and "appear
to perform noticeably better than . . . Electronic devices. Paper
might even be an improvement over lever machines."
New Yorkers are familiar with pen and paper than with computers like
the DREs. Most people have experience filling in the bubbles on lottery
tickets or standardized tests. Many state employees have experience
with optical scanners used for other government functions.
the surface resemblance of the full-face DREs to the lever machines
is superficial. DRES are computers and not at all like the lever
machines in their underlying technology.
Claim No. 7:
The Election Assistance Commission (July 20, 2005) interpreted requirements
for federal elections so as to rule out the possibility that equipment
other than DREs can meet accessibility requirements for the disabled.
The EAC document (EAC
advisory 05-004) specifically states otherwise,
saying: "This advisory should not be read to preclude
the innovation and use of accessible voting systems other than DREs."
says: "Many jurisdictions use a paper ballot voting system
that requires the voter to submit his or her own ballot after casting
for purposes of ballot counting…such jurisdictions must to the
extent reasonably and technologically possible afford a disabled voter
the same ability to submit his or her own ballot, in a private and
independent manner, as is afforded a non-disabled voter."
Claim No. 8:
Many people, especially the elderly, will find it difficult to mark
the paper ballots.
Modern scanners can accurately read marks that are not perfect. In
addition, any who feel insecure hand-marking a ballot may choose to
use the ballot-marking device located in each polling place. This will
allow the use of keys, ear phones, enlarged fonts, as well as various
languages to set up and verify a ballot before pressing the “prepare
ballot” button to print one’s choices on the ballot.
Claim No. 9:
New York’s recent legislation solves the problems about security
and verifiability which motivated the various verified voting movements.
First, while the legislation calls for a voter verified paper ballot
(VVPB), on the DREs this record still will not guarantee that the vote
is recorded as the voter intended; a machine can be programmed to record
one thing and print another.
Second, the legislation also recognizes
another problem with electronic voting when it requires vendors to
place in escrow with the state the “source
code” that controls the machine’s basic functions. This
intends to compensate for the fact that these codes are not made public;
but there is no guarantee that the code in escrow is the same as that
installed in a particular machine.
Claim No. 10:
Optical scanners are also computers so have the same problems of the
lack of transparency and dependence on proprietary source codes as
Optical scanners are computers, but much simpler than DREs. Scanners
only count votes. The voter casts his/her vote by marking the ballot
in the privacy booth and then submitting the ballot to the scanner,
which counts and stores the ballot for required audits and any necessary
The programming of the scanners can be transparently tested
by running a test deck of ballots that have been publicly hand-counted
as many times as are necessary to convince the testers that the
scanner is correctly set up.
Finally, with optical scan systems the
original paper ballot, marked by the voter, is the official record
of the vote. These ballots are available for manual recounts whenever
law or circumstance requires it.
Claim No. 11:
The PBOS system threatens the privacy of one’s
vote because the ballot is exposed to view.
New York’s legislation requires that privacy be protected in
the polling place through whatever arrangements necessary. Privacy
booths and privacy sleeves (which cover the ballot while being carried
to and placed in the scanner), screens around scanners, or use of separate
alcoves are procedures that work well in polling places in other states.
The many states already using PBOS have a wealth of experience with
successful procedures to guarantee ballot secrecy.
Claim No. 12:
Advocates of PBOS seriously underestimate the number of scanners needed,
which should replace lever machines at a one-for-one ratio.
More than one-third of the polling places in the U.S. use the PBOS
system and only the largest polling places require more than one
scanner. In New York State one optical scanner can comfortably
replace four or five lever machines in the same polling place.
Claim No. 13:
Advocates of PBOS (e.g., New Yorkers for Verified Voting) are motivated
by vested financial interests in certain voting machine companies.
NYVV has absolutely NO financial or other vested interest in any voting
equipment manufacturer, vendor, or their representatives. Our officers
and Board of Directors own no stock, receive no salary or commissions,
and accept no contributions, gifts, trips, or favors from any voting
machine vendor (or the lobbying firms they have hired), regardless
of what type of equipment they manufacture or promote.
in this issue has solely to do with our concern for transparent,
accurate, and verifiable elections. As citizens of New York State,
we share the concerns about DREs with many computer professionals
and others around the United States. We believe that optical scanners
are a better choice because they are a more reliable, accurate, auditable
and cost effective voting system. Our involvement in this advocacy
work comes from our belief that in a democracy, citizens must speak
up and take an active role.
In contrast, it is rarely acknowledged
that the voting machine vendors have a clear vested financial interest
in the voting equipment decision. No one disputes that for any company,
a larger profit is preferable to a smaller one. DREs will make more
money for vendors in both the short and long term than optical scanners.
But yet, this profit motive seems to be discounted when vendors advocate
in favor of DREs.
Claim No. 14:
Advocates of PBOS are unnecessarily suspicious of the DREs designed
for New York's full-face ballot, since these machines have been used
without problems in some NY counties in recent elections.
The Sequoia DREs used in a few polling places in Saratoga County NY
do not have the voter verified paper ballot (VVPB) now required by
NYS election law. The VVPB equipped machines which, at the time of
this writing, have yet to be submitted for certification, must have
this feature and therefore are not the same machines as the ones
currently being used.
Without verification and audits, one cannot
know if there were any problems with DREs like the ones used in
Saratoga County. Many problems with DREs that lack verification are
detected only when large discrepancies occur.
PBOS systems have been
in use in almost one-third of USA polling places with only isolated
reports of problems easily corrected with more experience in managing
Claim No. 15:
Nothing is to be gained by discussions and hearings around New York
at this time, since the certification process must conclude before
we can meaningfully consider the alternatives.
New York’s legislation authorizes choice between two very different
voting systems. In reality, the decision making process IS underway
now, prior to certification of any particular machine.
This is as it should be. Analysis and discussion must precede decision.
Full disclosure of the pros and cons of each system and public discussion
of the issues concerning different voting technologies is extremely
important and relevant, and must take place now.
Documentation of the claims made above may be found in the reports
and analyses available here:
Cost Analysis and Reports
Acquisition Cost Comparison of DRE vs. Optical Scan in New York
Ballot Printing Costs
Annual Costs of DREs and Optical Scanners
of PB/OS systems and DREs
Surveys and Critiques
Survey of States Using Optical Scanners
assessment of the reliability of different voting systems
Sequoia's Arguments against Optical Scanners
Commissioner's Review of Voting Machines
of ECA Voting Systems Report
Reports on MiamiDadeCounty
Dade County Recommends Abandoning DREs for Optical Scan
Dade Supervisor of Elections Report
Documented Problems of DRE systems
of New Mexico 2004 Phantom Votes
on New Mexico 2004 Phantom Votes
Problems in Electronic Elections
with Sequoia Voting Equipment
ES&S Voting Equipment
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