An ExpressVote XL voting machine during a demonstration at the...

An ExpressVote XL voting machine during a demonstration at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia in 2019. Credit: AP/Matt Rourke

Daily Point

LI expects new ballot devices in 2025

Both of Long Island’s county election boards are moving toward the use of touch-screen voting machines for the first time. But the technology won’t be introduced to voters before next year, so any snags or glitches that may go with a new system would not occur during this November’s high-turnout national and state elections.

James P. Scheuerman, the Democrat on the two-person Nassau election board, told The Point on Tuesday that funding for the new devices will be requested in the county’s next budget. Officials are consulting different vendors to get a sense of projected cost, he said.

Suffolk County is reportedly planning for its own changeover with more than $34 million as the proposed spend, potentially for a lease-purchase arrangement over several years.

Last year, the state Board of Elections authorized these ExpressVote XL machines, but obtaining them is optional for county election boards. That is, the counties are free to stick with the current system of paper ballots which are marked and then placed by voters in a scanning device and thus automatically counted.

Common Cause New York and other voting-rights groups have consistently warned against the new machines and are pressing in court to stop their use.

“These new, all-in-one touch screen voting machines would force voters to mark their ballot electronically instead of on the traditional voter-marked paper ballots,” Common Cause’s executive director Susan Lerner said.

“The ExpressVote XL would also tabulate voters’ selections from a printed bar code, preventing voters from independently verifying their selections in violation of state election law,” she said.

But the manufacturer, Election Systems & Software, based in Omaha, Nebraska, indicates in its publicity that voters can indeed verify choices they’ve made. The company website states: “All voters can reinsert their printed ballot into any ExpressVote XL, including the one they voted on, and verify they voted as they intended either on the vote summary screen or by listening to the audio playback.”

For all but the tech-savvy, questions will linger as the counties move ahead.

— Dan Janison

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Final Point

Don’t bet on a speedy casino licensing bill anytime soon

If it’s up to State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., the downstate casino licensing process would pick up speed.

A bill Addabbo introduced this month would require all potential bidders to submit license applications by July 31, and would require the state to make licensing decisions by March 31, 2025. Those decisions would be conditioned upon zoning approvals, and licensees would then have to submit evidence of the completion of all zoning requirements within two years of the state’s decision.

The state’s 2022 legislation that established a process for awarding three downstate casino licenses did not include a specific timetable, relying instead on the Gaming Facility Location Board and the state’s Gaming Commission to put timing guideposts in place. But the board then established a schedule dependent on answering two sets of questions from potential applicants. It has never answered the second set of questions, leaving the process in limbo.

The original legislation required applicants to complete zoning approvals before licenses were awarded. Addabbo’s legislation would allow those steps to be shifted.

But even as the current timetable has lagged, the state and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are counting on the license fees and additional casino revenue in the years to come, starting in 2026.

Addabbo’s move comes after Las Vegas Sands chief executive Rob Goldstein told investors last month that he was “very disappointed by New York,” adding that Sands officials, who hope to bid to build a casino on the land surrounding Nassau Coliseum, didn’t “have any clarity” about the process or timetable.

Addabbo’s district is next door to the Resorts World video lottery terminals at Aqueduct, where Genting has been planning to bid for a full-fledged casino license. But the bill would seem to benefit several of the larger casino companies that were planning to bid but have more recently expressed frustration with the state’s timetable.

Yet, sources told The Point the bill isn’t likely to move forward during the rest of this legislative session, especially since only 11 days remain in the session. So far, even the casino companies haven’t lobbied extensively on the bill since Addabbo introduced it.

“The thought … is that there isn’t the will to get it done so I don’t think there’s any sort of huge push on it,” a source with knowledge of the bill’s potential told The Point.

Perhaps adding to the indicators that the bill isn’t likely to become law, no one addressed the bill — or the casino license process in general — at the state Gaming Commission’s meeting held earlier this week.

Addabbo, however, told The Point he’s holding out hope that the bill moves.

“I am going to try and push it. I think it’s needed,” Addabbo said. “I have 11 days left and a lot can happen in 11 days.”

Addabbo and Assembly sponsor Gary Pretlow also hope to raise awareness about concerns over what Addabbo called “possibly a flawed process with no deadline in sight.”

“It just shows that when you have a complex issue like this, there should be a deadline,” Addabbo said. “There’s no rational reason to wait this long.”

Without the legislation, or any other changes, the Gaming Commission previously has said that license applications wouldn’t be due until at least the beginning of next year. That could push the state’s licensing decisions to the end of 2025.

In that case, sources have said bidders like Sands could work on their environmental reviews and other approvals between now and then. Officials have said they intend to resubmit plans and resolutions regarding the lease on the Coliseum site to the county’s Planning Commission and to the county legislature.

But so far, there’s no timetable for that, either.

— Randi F. Marshall

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