Tuesday, August 4, 2009

$75,000 PCs TO RUN ELECTIONS IN NY COUNTIES (So much for "stand-alone" voting machines.)

For those who still believe the myth that New York's new voting machines will be "stand-alone, non-networked" devices, just like lever voting machines (put forth by anti-lever zealots), here's a brief summary about how the new systems really work, published in The Daily Star:

Pilot programs for new voting machines to begin locally
By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau

Published: August 01, 2009 12:00 am


The machines cost about $11,500 apiece, and the counties have had to buy special $75,000 Dell computers to program their voting machines.

``We've used up most of our federal money,'' said Ross, who estimated the county had been given about $600,000.

Both counties had to hire more staff, two technicians apiece, to tend to the new machines. Unlike the lever machines that have been used locally for decades, optical scanners cannot be stored in town barns and fire houses, but must be kept in a climate-controlled area and tested periodically. Each time they are needed, they have to hauled to polling places, Ross noted.

The new machines represent more work for staff, and the new way of voting will be more expensive than using lever machines, said Ross.

`` Ballots are 65 cents apiece, and if we need 38,000 of them for elections twice a year for the primary and general election, or three times a year, when there's a special election, that's going to add up.''

But the federal government has ordered changes, the state government has consented to them, and now county boards of election are striving to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

``Our biggest problem may be convincing people to fill in the squares completely,'' said Schermerhorn.
A bigger problem in our opinion is that the new ballot scanners are not "stand-alone" devices at all, as many have been led to believe. This means the new voting system will be vulnerable to all the risks inherent in any centrally managed client-server computer network, including wide-scale error, propagation of viruses and malware, denial of service attacks, insider fraud, and so on.

Interestingly, the legislatures of two of the counties mentioned in this report, Delaware and Chenango Counties, have both passed resolutions to keep their lever voting machines. They seem to prefer their inexpensive, low risk, low tech, non-computerized, truly stand-alone vote-counting devices after all. And so should we all.

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