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NY’s New Voting Process Already Questioned

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A man votes at a public school - New York, NY - Nov 2, 2010 - Photo: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

A man votes at an NYC public school (credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – More than a decade after the 2000 presidential election forced states to toss out century-old voting technology, the League of Women Voters says New York’s new machines are fine, but some improvements are needed.

A lack of privacy is among the biggest concerns about the “optical scanning system,” which requires voters to fill in circles on paper instead of slipping behind a curtain to pull a mechanical lever.

“We need to do much, much more if we’re to take full advantage of the state’s new voting systems,” said Aimee Allaud, the league’s elections specialist. “We must take immediate steps to resolve these problems.”

The League of Women voters has recommended several immediate changes for voting in New York, one of the last states to adopt changes as a result of changes made after the 2000 election.

The state Board of Elections received the group’s recommendations at its December meeting and is reviewing them, said board spokesman John Conklin.

Many of the changes would have to be enacted by the Legislature, Conklin said. The board also has sought some legislative changes to improve the process, he said.

Other League of Women Voters’ concerns include a need for:
– More voter education, so counties can provide tailored ballots for their races to better prepare voters.
– More training of election workers. Split shifts and recruitment of younger poll workers are allowed under law and should be pursued.
– Revising the paper ballot. The group sees “an immediate need” to redesign the paper ballot to make it clearer and easier to use.
– More privacy. More than 20 percent of people who responded to the group’s online survey said they didn’t have enough privacy when marking the ballot and scanning it into a machine.

“New York’s ballot must be completely overhauled in order to be fully usable by voters,” said Bo Lipari, the League of Women Voters’ technology director.

(Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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