Shown is a ballot during a demonstration of the ExpressVote...

Shown is a ballot during a demonstration of the ExpressVote XL voting machine at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Credit: AP/Matt Rourke

Watchdog groups are trying to halt or delay certification of a new, touch-screen voting machine in New York they say is more problematic and less safe than the paper ballots state residents have used without fuss for years.

Common Cause, the Let NY Vote Coalition and others are asking the state Board of Elections to reject certification of the touch-screen machine called ExpressVote XL, offered by Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software.

The board will meet Wednesday, when it will take public comments and then is expected to accept or reject the machine. If accepted, the machine would become a purchase option for counties — per state law, counties make individual decisions on voting machines.

If used locally, voters would touch a large computer screen to make election selections rather than fill in ovals on a paper ballot, as they do now.

ES&S contends that ExpressVote meets or exceeds all legal requirements in New York. But watchdogs point out the machine's reliability has been under scrutiny in Pennsylvania and other places and the device has been tied to longer wait times on Election Day.

Further, they say there is no reason to switch from the simple, hand-marked paper ballots, which are easy to audit and resistant to tampering because paper cannot be hacked.

“Paper ballots marked by the voter — which New York currently uses — is the election security gold standard,” said Sarah Goff, deputy director of Common Cause New York, on Tuesday. Adding a new machine, she said, comes off as “solving a problem we don’t have in New York.”

They also say ExpressVote doesn’t produce a secure paper trail for a voter to review and verify his or her vote.

Instead, it encodes a voter’s selections in “nonhuman readable bar codes” and produces a “summary card” showing the voter’s recorded selections, “meaning the paper record is not directly accessible to voters,” according to VerifiedVoting.org.

In short, instead of looking at the mark you made on a paper ballot as in the current system, you'd have to read the computer-generated summary card to make sure it is correct. You could notify a poll worker if there is a discrepancy.

Katina Granger, ES&S spokeswoman, said independent testing companies retained by the state Board of Elections have confirmed the accuracy and security of ExpressVote. The company contends the machine’s summary cards are a “verifiable paper ballot.”

In an email, Granger added: “We are confident our technology meets and exceeds the requirements of New York State law and look forward to the opportunity to enhance the experience of voters across New York.”

Still, some say the machine adds unnecessary hurdles to the whole process.

“The current voter-marked optical scan system is easy to audit or challenge,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “The more you get away from that, the more problematic it becomes.”

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Oak Beach Osprey nest … New tax breaks for struggling Port Washington development … Paralympic gold medalist Credit: Newsday

Updated 7 minutes ago Primary: Voters take to the polls ... Nassau homebuying event ... Hamptons Bay man drowns ... Paralympic gold medalist

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