Legislators call on Albany to allow Westchester to continue to use mechanical lever voting machines in local elections

6/12/2009 3:12:28 PM

A majority of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, today, called on Governor David Paterson and leaders in the State Assembly and State Senate to allow Westchester to continue using mechanical lever voting machines in county elections.

In 2002, the federal government enacted the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which required states to replace the older and unreliable voting systems and to insure that voting is accessible to all voters, including those with disabilities.  Westchester presently uses lever voting machines.  It makes paper ballots available to those with disabilities and the ballots are counted with optical-scanning voting machines.

“The mechanical lever voting machines have long proved reliable, user-friendly and cost-effective,” said Legislator Tom Abinanti (D, I-Greenburgh).  “Replacing lever voting machines is very costly.  It has proved to create voter confusion and may result in the use of machines that could compromise the integrity of future elections.” 

The State Board of Elections has approved a pilot program to introduce a paper ballot-optical-scan system for all voters in most of the state’s 62 counties.  However, there are several notable holdouts: the five boroughs of New York City, and Nassau, Suffolk and Rockland counties. 

“We’re not opposed to implementing a system that incorporates optical scanners,” said Board Chairman William J. Ryan (D, I, WFP-White Plains).  “When used in conjunction with optical scanners, lever voting machines can be part of a voting system which would be HAVA compliant and would serve the public’s best interest.”  

 To read the letter to Governor Paterson, click here