TESTIMONY OF STATE SENATOR LIZ KRUEGER
Tuesday, December 20th, 2005
Good morning. My
name is Liz Krueger, and I represent the 26th
As a State Legislator, I submit that we, the Legislature,
failed the residents of
An unfortunate result of the Legislature’s lack of urgency
with regard to HAVA is that we are now left in the precarious position of
having a little more than nine months to get the new voting systems and
regulations operational. If we do not
have specific systems in place by particular dates, then
HAVA requires the state to begin replacing its voting
machines by the 2006 election. In
The Draft Voting Machine Guidelines require a great deal of work in order to guarantee New Yorkers that their voting system is accurate and secure. Simply put, the guidelines are vague and unspecific. I have also been informed that the HAVA Citizen’s Advisory Committee was not give an opportunity to make recommendations to these guidelines. This fact does not bode well for our hopes of keeping this an open and transparent process. After reading the guidelines, the overwhelming sense one is left with is that the guidelines hold Paper Based Optical Scanning (PBOS) technology to a higher standard than the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) equipment. The requirements for PBOS are exhaustive and I believe this a good thing. Unfortunately, the DRE standards leave a number of questions, including most importantly testing. Now when it comes to testing the new voting machines, there is no doubt that testing must be done in public with a large number of machines. Unfortunately, the guidelines seem to allow for vendors to waive testing, in favor of submitting test reports that they have conducted with independent authorities. The vendors should be required to supply several machines without charge and members of the public must be able to observe the entering of test votes, the printing of each voter-verified record and the tally of the final vote. These machines should also be subjected to a “red-test,” which would certify that the machines are not able to be hacked into.
I am particularly concerned about the guidelines that
address the source code of the voting machines. Specifically, the guidelines allow for
vendors to define the usage of the term “proprietary” and do not address the
need for independent public review of the software. It is crucial that the source code not be
considered as proprietary and is held in the public domain for independent
appraisal. I am reminded of the
analogy that many voting machine experts have made between voting systems and
gambling machines in
The guidelines indicate that the new voting machines will be part of a network of machines with communication capabilities. This is a dangerous road to tread down given the potential for system-wide hacking, and I recommend that each machine should stand alone and render totals specific to the machine. The Board of Elections should further be required to inspect equipment before and after elections to make sure there is no hardware or software to support communications, as well as to allow candidates and political parties to inspect machines before and after elections. Furthermore, I recommend that the State Board of Elections urge the Legislature to institute criminal investigations and felony penalties if communication capability is present in the equipment.
Finally, I urge the State Board of Elections to adopt the recommendations in the draft response to the guidelines from the NYC Board of Elections and these recommendations are sound.
Still, the most critical issue facing the state concerns which machines will be certified. New Yorkers have a right to the most reliable, secure, and auditable voting system currently available. There are presently two types of voting machines being considered to replace our aging lever machines. The first one is a Direct Recording Electronic voting system, also known as a DRE. DRE’s typically resemble PCs with touch-screen capability and they pose a very serious threat to the integrity of the electoral process. The second type of voting machine available is called a Paper Ballot Optical Scanner system, also known as PBOS. Optical scanners use a paper ballot marking system, which is also compatible with a highly sophisticated ballot-marking machine, developed for use by persons with disabilities.
I strongly urge the City of
Recent reports by the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that touch screen DRE systems had the highest rates of spoiled, uncounted and unmarked ballots. Manually counted paper ballots had the lowest average incidence of spoiled, uncounted, and unmarked ballots, followed closely by optically scanned ballots.
A reliable voting technology is a basic requirement for
the integrity of the
In addition to being the most accurate, secure, transparent and accessible voting technology available, PBOS is also the least costly. According to New Yorkers for Verified Voting, in a voting district with three lever machines, the cost for DRE machines will be $36,000. The cost for the PBOS machines with a ballot-marking machine will only be $10,000. Maintenance and storage costs – which will not be paid by federal funds – are significantly lower for the optical scanners than for the DRE machines. Because PBOS systems are simpler and more straightforward, it is both easier and cheaper to train election assistance workers for PBOS systems. No one knows the expected life of a DRE machine, but some predict that they will have to be replaced in five years, to be paid by either the state or local government. Finally, the federal Election Assistance Commission has estimated that their Voluntary Voting System Standards will be available in early 2008; PBOS systems are guaranteed to meet those standards, but DRE systems may not.
and Common Cause share my concern that a strong lobby effort from voting
machine manufacturers is influencing
The significance of this decision must not be
underestimated. HAVA creates an
opportunity for the counties of
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.