Considering the Alternative, New York Holds Onto Its Old-Fashioned Voting Machines


New York City, Nassau, and Westchester Counties have refused to participate in a state pilot program to test out optical scan voting machines.

While the rest of the country continues to adopt electronic voting machines — even though they’ve been proven faulty when it comes to actually counting votes — New York City is among final hold-outs. Local officials are clinging to the clunky lever machines that have been around since the sixties. The attitude is: Don’t fix what ain’t broken, especially when the new option is pretty broken itself.

Electronic and optical scan voting machines, according to Princeton technology professor Andrew Appel, are vulnerable to tampering by hackers. (Appel would know: A few years ago he bought a bunch of machines for his students, who easily hacked into them). Though they are required to be retrofitted with printers, we all know how often printers run out of ink and malfunction. Some states, such as New Jersey, have refused to certify the machines.

Three years ago, the Department of Justice actually sued the state, saying New York was the furthest-behind of all states in complying with the 2002 Help America Vote Act. (This wasn’t all about the technology: The Justice Department was upset that New York hadn’t spent millions of dollars in federal aid to modernize it. That may have as much to do with bureaucratic slowness as it does to do with some principled opposition to machines that could thwart the voting process.) Image (cc) mamasmusings.