Supervisors back paper ballots


By David Avitabile

As state elections officials prepare this week to certify voting machines to use in elections this fall, Schoharie County supervisors Friday reaffirmed their preference for a paper ballot/optical scan voting system.
The decision on which type of voting machine will be used in the county will be made by election commissioners Cliff Hay and Lewis Wilson.
That decision needs to be made between February 11 and 18, said Schoharie County Chairman Earl VanWormer.
The county board’s unanimous reaffirmation of a 2005 resolution supporting the paper ballot/optical scan resolution followed requests from two members of the Peacemakers’ group to support the optical scanners over direct electronic systems.
Adair DeLamater of Sharon said the electronic touch screen systems are more expensive, heavier, have a shorter life span and are slower.
Many countries and states have switched from electronic systems to optical scan systems, she said.
“We have the opportunity to learn from the frustrating, expensive choices made by others,” she told supervisors.
“The experience of DREs has demonstrated that they are not trusted or liked by the public, and they have a history of malfunctions causing multiple problems for voters and election officials.”
Susan Fantl Spivack added that supervisors “have the opportunity here to secure the integrity of our vote, save your constituents untold hundreds of thousands of tax dollars over the long-term, and earn public honor for having the energy and courage to do the right thing.
“As our public servants we expect you to embrace this opportunity to preserve the right of every citizen to a verifiable, economical, user-friendly voting system.”
The matter was referred to the board’s rules and legislation and elections committee. Members of that committee are expected to meet with the elections commissioners and the deputy elections commissioners prior to the county board’s next meeting on February 15.
Mr. VanWormer said that the county has a list of potential vendors but a list of approved machines will not be made until this week.
He said he still support the optical scan systems because he has not “heard of a better alternative.”
Mr. Hay said Monday that there is nothing to decide until state elections officials meet in Saratoga this week to approve a list of machines.
He noted that the state has said that all machines need to have a paper trail.
“It’s still electronics no matter how you do it,” Mr. Hay said.
He said he did not know which machines will be approved though he hopes one machine is approved for the entire state for uniformity.
Speakers from the Peacemakers’ group Friday expressed concern that state officials could put electronic voting systems on the list though Ms. Fantl Spivack said “they are not really ballot marking devices, are uncertified and cannot be used with paper ballots.”
She said that the previously certified AutoMark BMD, which is compatible with a paper ballot, is almost certain to be on the state list.
The county’s election commissioners should choose the paper ballot and AutoMark systems, she said, and if they choose an electronic system, “we expect you to refuse to authorize funding these expensive unreliable machines.”