Nassau must use electronic voting machines

A voter is given instruction on how to A voter is given instruction on how to use the new voting machine. (Nov. 2, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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New York's top court has refused to hear Nassau County's arguments against using the new electronic voting machines, leaving their mandated use intact.

The Court of Appeals in a one-paragraph decision Thursday denied "leave to appeal."

Last fall, the Appellate Division had ruled that the county lacked standing to sue the state over the machines because Nassau's Board of Elections, and not the county, was tasked with implementing the system.

Nassau, the only county in the state to challenge the use of the machines, had argued, among other things, that the machines violate the state constitution and, said County Attorney John Ciampoli, "they do not do the best job possible for the voters."

The State Board of Elections mandated use of the machines based on a federal court ruling. But the county board claimed in its papers that electronic voting systems are susceptible to tampering.

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Ciampoli said Friday that the "bottom line is that we have been stopped at this juncture, and we have to figure out where we go from here."

William Biamonte, the Democratic commissioner with the county Board of Elections, said the electronic voting machines could be disastrous. "Superstorm Sandy pushed us to within an inch of an election disaster, and that should have shown everybody a major weakness in the system," he said.

In October 2002, Congress enacted the federal Help America Vote Act in response to controversies surrounding the 2000 presidential election, especially Florida's use of computer voting systems that read punch-card ballots.

The act did not mandate that states stop using lever voting machines that could meet baseline federal requirements. But New York State subsequently enacted the Election Reform and Modernization Act of 2005, requiring replacement of lever machines with computerized voting systems.

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