Making Your Vote Count: A Voting Machine Update

Last year it appeared that Onondaga County voters would be stuck voting on dubious touch screen voting machines for years to come. Due to the hard work of the Greater Syracuse Progressive Coalition and the League of Women Voters, the County Executive and Legislature are taking a closer look at this foundation of democracy.

Given the chaos and delays in selecting new voting technology for New York State, many voters wonder why we can't just keep the mechanical lever machines which have served us well for generations. Because these machines cannot be made accessible for people with disabilities, using these machines isn't legal.
Diebold, one of the main manufacturers of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines, has close ties with the Republican Party.

Since New York State has not yet chosen its new voting system, we have the opportunity to avoid the expensive mistakes made by other states which have invested millions in failed touch screen voting technology.

A coalition of the state's leading election reform groups called on Governor Spitzer to follow Florida Governor Charlie Crist's lead and rule out the use of computerized Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines in New York.

Bo Lipari, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting says, "Governor Spitzer should join the governors from New Mexico, Maryland, and Florida in calling for adoption of paper ballots and optical scanners. It is the only choice that makes sense for New Yorkers."

Like any technology, Paper Ballot Optical Scanners (PBOSs) may have problems, but they pale in comparison to the magnitude of problems experienced and threatened by DREs.

On November 20, 2006, the Onondaga County Office of Management and Budget invited the Progressive Coalition's Voting Integrity Committee and Bo Lipari to discuss the Committee's refutation of voting technology cost comparisons prepared by the Election Commissioners. The Voting Integrity Committee demonstrated that the Optical Scan system would cost $5,730,600 less than the DRE system. Combined with the fact that the PBOS system is more accurate, reliable and secure (and with a ballot marking device, accessible to people with disabilities) this decision should be easy.

The Voting Integrity Committee urges you to stay up-to-date on this issue by accessing the and websites (the former site includes a link to contact Governor Spitzer calling on him to support "a statewide system of casting paper ballots counted by optical scanners"). A ten-minute clip from the DVD "Bought and Sold - Electronic Voting in New York" further clarifies the issues.

Please contact the County Executive, the County Legislators (especially your own) and the Elections Commissioners to let them know you support paper ballots, not black box machines with questionable results. Let's keep up the momentum. See the Onondaga County website: for specific addresses.

For further information, please contact me at or call the League of Women Voters at 652-9112.

-Lenore Rapalski, Director of Local Issues, League of Women Voters of Syracuse Metropolitan Area