Letter to the Editor: New voting machines in NY?

Ask your Assembly and Senate representatives to support and cosponsor bills that will help ensure free and fair elections in New York by changing the procurement process for voting machines.

When you voted early in Westchester County in Nov. 2019, most of the machines that scanned and tabulated ballots were not the same ones you’ve seen for over a decade. Thirty new machines were purchased by the Westchester County Board of Elections (WBOE) for early voting.

These new machines replaced the old tabulators which frequently broke down and were sometimes not repaired in a timely manner. Breakdowns during elections cause delays and confusion for voters.

The WBOE hopes to purchase hundreds more of these Dominion ICE machines for the 2020 elections, enough for all polling places. This will require a huge expenditure of public money. As a voter I expect this expenditure to guarantee machines which will be fully functional and safe against hacking for at least a decade, but will it?

In business, best practice for purchase of equipment calls for a request for proposal (RFP) which originates with the purchaser. Vendors compete to satisfy requirements stated by the entities who have an insider’s understanding of how the product should perform. The purchaser contracts with the vendor who comes closest to fulfilling the requirements at the best price.

This is not the process of the SBOE. According to current NY law, vendors develop voting machines without the benefit of a detailed RFP from the SBOE. The only voting machines available for the SBOE’s certification are what vendors offer. All counties must choose from those certified by the SBOE. Choices are very limited and guarantees of satisfaction of voters needs are weak.

To guarantee free and fair elections, New York’s BOEs should create an RFP for voting machines.

Bills now in the NY state legislature (A8449, S6734) would establish an RFP system in which BOE commissioners develop the criteria for voting machines.  Changing the voting machine procurement process is essential. No more public money spent on vulnerable voting machines!

Thanks you,

Catherine Ray
Ossining, NY

 

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