New York

Articles about voting issues in New York.

New York: Hacking concerns delayed vote machines: Westchester bought them anyway | Mark Lungariello/Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Westchester County lawmakers put off buying new voting machines in March over concerns they could be hacked and made to add marks on finished ballots. The county Board of Elections bought some anyway. “The local county legislature has no authority to approve the machines, so we didn’t do anything out of the ordinary,” Reggie Lafayette, Democratic elections commissioner, told The Journal News/lohud. But some lawmakers didn’t see it that way and even sought a written legal opinion from county staff attorneys on the move. The county Law Department concluded in August that the elections board acted within its authority under New York state law as a semi-autonomous entity. Legislator Nancy Barr, a Rye Brook Democrat, said the process still left a lot to be desired. “Even if it’s allowed, it’s certainly not something that generates trust between the Board of Legislators and the Board of Elections, and other departments,” she said at last Monday’s meeting of the legislature’s Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Full Article: Hacking concerns delayed vote machines: Westchester bought them anyway.

New York: With Under a Month To Go, Board of Elections Mum on Shift to Electronic Poll Books | Ethan Geringer-Sameth/Gotham Gazette

With just one month before New York rolls out early voting for the first time, it is unclear exactly where the city’s Board of Elections stands on acquiring and readying new technology considered essential to the new voting system. BOE commissioners and staff have been discussing the acquisition of electronic poll books at board meetings since January, when the State Legislature passed and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law establishing early voting and authorizing counties to purchase the new tech, which enables implementation of early voting. In June, the State Board of Elections approved three vendors that counties could contract with, and the same month the city BOE appeared to have chosen one. But as of late September, the city board has been silent on its progress toward purchasing the 10,000 e-poll books it says it requires, much less loading them with the voter rolls and training staff to use them.

Full Article: With Under a Month To Go, Board of Elections Mum on Shift to Electronic Poll Books.

New York: The Shocking Final Count: What Happened in the Queens District Attorney Race | Vivian Wang/The New York Times

The polls had closed. Most of the votes had been tallied. Tiffany Cabán, the public defender and democratic socialist whose insurgent candidacy for Queens district attorney galvanized political observers nationwide, had declared victory. And then, late Wednesday, a twist: A count of paper ballots that had not been totaled on primary night pushed Melinda Katz — the Queens borough president and establishment favorite — ahead, by the barely there margin of 20 votes. The news thrust the borough, as well as the broader New York political world, into chaos. It threw a major victory for the left wing of the Democratic Party into doubt, and it inspired immediate recriminations about traditional party forces. But the race isn’t over yet, as the vote now goes to a manual recount, automatically triggered by the tiny margin. Ms. Cabán’s team has promised to fight for every vote, in what could turn into a protracted, expensive legal battle. Here’s what you need to know.

Full Article: The Shocking Final Count: What Happened in the Queens District Attorney Race - The New York Times.

New York: Top court: Ballot images aren’t public | Ekuzabeth Izzo/Adirondack Daily Enterprise

The state’s highest court has ruled in favor of Essex County in a lawsuit that called into question whether electronically scanned images of ballots can be obtained without a court order following an election. In an opinion released June 13, state Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote that electronic images of ballots should be subject to the same restrictions as paper ballots, which can only be examined within two years of an election with a court order or direction from a state legislative committee. “The Election Law’s closely regulated framework for handling of ballots and reviewing their contents balances ballot secrecy, anti-tampering measures, accuracy and finality,” DiFiore wrote. The Court of Appeals’ 4 to 3 decision marks the end to a four-year-long lawsuit that started with a Freedom of Information Law request in 2015. Bethany Kosmider, a former Crown Point town supervisor and chairwoman of the county Democratic committee, sought access to electronic images of ballots cast in the 2015 general election through a FOIL request filed that year.

Full Article: Top court: Ballot images aren’t public | News, Sports, Jobs - Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

New York: Rensselaer County election system, site, malfunctions and shows incorrect results | Steve Maugeri/WRGB

Primary night was a longer than usual in Rensselaer County. Republican election commissioner Jason Schofield says some of the results coming out of the machine weren’t correct. That lead to some incorrect unofficial results going on up on their website. “Someone in our office had looked to see how a particular candidate had done. That candidate had prevailed in is primary in one town about a 50 vote margin. When we inputted the disk, it had him losing the election 70 votes to one vote,” Schofield said. That prompted them to shut down their system and resorted to counting by hand. He says this is a necessary step to avoid misleading voters or candidates during the primaries. The Board of Elections still have to count absentee ballots, but they won’t be counted using these machines. All of them will be counted by hand. The Board of Elections hopes to have the final results in by next week.

Full Article: Rensselaer County election system, site, malfunctions and shows incorrect results | WRGB.

New York: New Voting Machines Could Impact Need For Poll Translators | Kings County Politics

A new voting machine that has instructions and ballots in multiple languages could make the city’s hiring of translators outside of polling places obsolete in the near future. That after the state board of elections is reportedly looking at giving municipalities the green light to start using the ExpressVote XL machines if they so choose. Given that the city now offers voter the ability to register in 15 different languages, the machine has a touchscreen which allows for any language to be programmed, so that voters whose first language is not English can simply read the ballot in their preferred language without having to navigate a crowded ballot with small print and multiple languages on it. The machine uses touchscreen technology that displays only the language that the voter selects, making the ballot clear and easy to read.  The paper-based ExpressVote XL machines are also fully Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant, produce a verifiable paper record for tabulation.

Full Article: New Voting Machines Could Impact Need For Poll Translators.

New York: After Backlash, Personal Voter Information Is Removed by New York City | The New York Times

Bowing to fierce criticism from elected officials and privacy advocates, the New York City Board of Elections has removed the voter enrollment books that it had posted online, which had included every registered voter’s full name, party affiliation and home address. The books, spanning thousands of pages in searchable PDF format, were quietly posted in February, the first time they had been available on the Board of Elections website. Officials said the online publication was necessary given changes to election law at the state level. But after a series of news reports regarding the decision, some election and privacy experts warned that it could make sensitive personal information too readily available. And officials including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, warned that the decision to publish the books could undermine public trust in the electoral process and jeopardize the security of voter information. By Tuesday, the voter rolls had been removed from the Board of Elections’ website. Michael Ryan, the board’s executive director, said the board had made the decision during a conference call on Monday, partly in response to public outrage following the media reports. “Up until a media inquiry into this matter, we had seen no complaints from anyone that this information was there,” Mr. Ryan said on Tuesday during a previously planned City Council hearing about election reform. But, he said, “Since people were getting upset, we took it down.”

Full Article: After Backlash, Personal Voter Information Is Removed by New York City - The New York Times.

New York: Amid Public Outrage, New York City Board Of Elections Pulls Private Voter Records From Internet | CBS

After massive public backlash, and the possibility for legal backlash as well, the New York City Board of Elections has quickly wiped the public’s private information from the internet. Voter rolls listing full names, home addresses that included apartment numbers, and party affiliations for all 4.6 million registered voters in New York City were dumped on the BOE’s website. On Tuesday, the board suddenly decided to remove that information from its site after beginning the information dump in February. Executive director Michael Ryan spoke to CBS2’s Marcia Kramer about the privacy scandal and admitted the media firestorm was responsible for the decision to end the short-sighted plan. “Yes we heard it. Yes we took it down. Do I think if someone was really looking to find somebody they’d go to the ad list books at the Boards of Elections? No I don’t quite frankly,” Ryan said defiantly.

Full Article: Amid Public Outrage, NYC Board Of Elections Pulls Private Voter Records From Internet – CBS New York.

New York: Public Records: Personal Information on New York City Voters Is Now Available for All to See | The New York Times

Are you registered to vote in New York City? If so, then anyone can find out your party affiliation, full name and home address down to the apartment number — all with a few mouse clicks. The city’s Board of Elections recently posted its voter enrollment lists to its website, a massive upload of thousands of pages, covered in tiny all-caps letters, that offer a district-by-district breakdown of voters sorted by party and street name — one line for each of the 4.6 million active registered voters. City officials said that the information was already public record, and that a new forum did not change its availability. But the move raised alarms among privacy advocates and some election experts, who said the ease of access could play into the hands of mail scammers, internet trolls and domestic violence perpetrators. It even drew oblique criticism from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose office emphasized the need for digital privacy. “The New York City Board of Elections’ decision was theirs to make, but we believe sensitive voter information should always be protected,” Caitlin Girouard, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement. She added, “When it comes to the current administration, we need to be extra vigilant to ensure New Yorkers’ information isn’t being used for politically motivated ill will.”

Full Article: Public Records: Personal Information on New York City Voters Is Now Available for All to See - The New York Times.

New York: Oversight Committee head calls for halt on voting machines | New York Post

The chair of the City Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee is calling for a halt to the Board of Elections’ plan to use machines supplied by a company with a spotty record for this fall’s early voting. “I’m against rigging the process in favor of a contractor with a dubious track record,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx). Election Systems & Software came under fire after its ballot scanners reportedly jammed at polling places across the city in November’s elections. “There needs to be an investigation of the performance and conflicts of interest involving ES&S. There should be a competitive bidding process,” Torres said. BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan is also on the hot seat after it was revealed last year that he failed to report several posh business trips paid for by ES&S. He subsequently stepped down from an unpaid gig on the contractor’s advisory board.

Full Article: Ritchie Torres calls for removal of faulty voting machines.

New York: Budget allocates $24.7M to improve voting process — publicly funded elections delayed | The Legislative Gazette

Election reformers are seeing mixed results in the new state budget passed this week. On one hand, New Yorkers will now be able to vote before Election Day, register to vote online, and polls will open earlier for upstate primaries. Additionally, employers will be required to give all workers three hours of paid time off to vote, and with a new $14.7 million allocation, voters will be able to sign in at polling places using an electronic sign-in book. The e-poll books keep track of data such as voter registration, voting history and verification and identification of voters. This will bring the state’s system up to date with 21st century technology. More than half of the states in the U.S. use electronic polling books already. On the other hand, many good-government groups and activists are angry that the budget did not establish a system of publicly financed campaigns that rely on a small-donor matching system, coupled with lowered contribution limits. Instead, a commission will study the feasibility of such a system for legislative and statewide offices, and will issue a report in December. Proposed by the Fair Elections for New York campaign, a small-donor matching system would give a voice to New Yorkers who cannot afford to donate large sums of money to political candidates. It is also seen as a system that allows more people to run for political office.

Full Article: Budget allocates $24.7M to improve voting process — publicly funded elections delayed – The Legislative Gazette.

New York: Questions Over Mike Ryan Pushing for ES&S Voting Machines | NY1

The city’s Board of Elections is arguing it may need some new voting machines because of early voting, but the board’s leader is pushing for machines made by a company he has benefited from, raising questions of conflicts of interest. For almost 10 years, New York City has used the same type of voting machine: An optical scanner. But now, the city Board of Elections may want to try something else. It’s a new machine called the ExpressVote XL, and it’s made by the major voting machine manufacturer, Election Systems and Software (ES&S). In a letter exclusively obtained by NY1, the city asked the state Board of Elections this week to possibly use the new machine for early voting this year. It says using paper ballots would be virtually impossible. That’s because there will be far fewer poll sites open for early voting than on a traditional election day. Officials question whether every site would be able to keep all of the different ballot configurations for each election district, and this ExpressVote XL machine uses a touch screen to vote instead. But there is a problem: The state Board of Elections has not certified or fully tested this machine for use in New York. The city Board of Elections is essentially asking state officials to skirt that approval process, specifically asking permission from the state board to use the machine in this fall’s general election. The letter states “time is of the essence.” It is signed by two people. One is the executive director of the board, Michael Ryan. One leader of the state Board of Elections immediately dismissed the city board’s request: “What annoyed me most about the letter is it doesn’t seem to understand the reason for New York’s certification for voting equipment,” state Board of Elections Co-Chair Douglas Kellner said. “We have to recognize that there are security risks.”

Full Article: Questions Over Mike Ryan Pushing for ES&S Voting Machines.

New York: Electronic Poll Books Next Step in New York Election Overhaul | Gotham Gazette

As Democrats in the state Legislature continue a rapid pace of passing legislation to start the new session, the state Senate seems poised to advance another round of election and voting reforms, including approving the use of electronic poll books to administer elections. Electronic poll books, used in at least 34 states and the District of Columbia, are a fairly simple but significant instrument in making elections more efficient, experts and advocates argue. They make voting faster, preventing long lines at polling sites, save costs in the long run, and are easier to update and maintain compared to the paper lists currently used in New York. Some advocates also say e-poll books, as they’re often called, are essential in implementing improvements to voter registration processes, which the state Legislature put into motion last month, and helpful in the implementation of the significant shift of early voting, also part of the recently-passed package.

Full Article: Electronic Poll Books Next Step in New York Election Overhaul.

New York: Cuomo signs ‘transformative’ early voting bill, other election reforms | Auburn Citizen

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation making New York the 38th state to allow early voting.  The bill, which the Democratic-led state Legislature passed last week, establishes a nine-day early voting period before election days. The early voting period would conclude on the Sunday before an election. Democratic lawmakers attempted for years to adopt an early voting system, but the bill was blocked by Republicans when the GOP controlled the state Senate. With Democrats now in the Senate majority, the bill cleared that legislative hurdle. “Early voting is going to be transformative for the system,” said Cuomo, who has, for years, included early voting in his annual legislative agenda. 

Full Article: Cuomo signs 'transformative' early voting bill, other NY election reforms | Eye on NY |

New York: Lawmakers approve election reforms, including early voting | NBC

New York state lawmakers approved a series of reforms intended to make it easier to vote on Monday, including giving voters 10 days of early access to the ballot box prior to Election Day and consolidating primary dates. The reforms were passed by the new Democratic majority in the state Senate. Similar reforms have died in the legislature in recent years, thanks to Republican control in the Senate. The bills are expected to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who commended the legislature for taking “quick action” on the issue, soon. “At a time when the federal government is doing everything it can to disenfranchise voters, we are taking action to make it easier for New Yorkers to participate in the democratic process and crack down on corporate influences in our election,” Cuomo said in a statement on Monday.

Full Article: New York lawmakers approve election reforms, including early voting.

New York: With New Voting Laws, Democrats Flex Newfound Power in New York | The New York Times

After years of lagging behind other states, New York radically overhauled its system of voting and elections on Monday, passing several bills that would allow early voting, preregistration of minors, voting by mail and sharp limits on the influence of money. The bills, which were passed by the State Legislature on Monday evening, bring New York in line with policies in other liberal bastions like California and Washington, and they would quiet, at least for a day, complaints about the state’s antiquated approach to suffrage. Their swift passage marked a new era in the State Capitol. Democrats, who assumed full control this month after decades in which the Legislature was split, say they will soon push through more of their priorities, from strengthening abortion rights to approving the Child Victims Act, which would make it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their assailants.

Full Article: With New Voting Laws, Democrats Flex Newfound Power in New York - The New York Times.

New York: Early Voting and Other Election Reforms Coming to New York | The New York Times

For years, the ways in which voters in New York have been stymied by the state’s antiquated voting laws have stood in stark contrast to the state’s liberal reputation. During last year’s contentious midterm elections, New York was the only state in the nation that held separate state and federal primary elections, a bifurcation that almost seemed designed to suppress voter turnout — which is generally thought to favor incumbents. Early voting? Voting by mail? Same-day voter registration? All are fairly basic voting reforms now found in many states, but not in New York.

Full Article: Early Voting and Other Election Reforms Coming to New York - The New York Times.

New York: Coalition wants ‘fair elections’ legislation to be Albany’s first priority | The Buffalo News

A coalition of 175 grassroots and community groups is pushing Albany to pass a “fair elections” package that includes such elements as small-donor public financing, closing campaign funding loopholes and early voting. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other Democratic leaders have supported various forms of such legislation in the past, but fair elections proposals had been consistently blocked by Republicans who long controlled the state Senate, organizers say. Now that Democrats control both the legislative and executive branches in New York, the Fair Elections for New York coalition wants elected officials to pass fair elections legislation right away. About 25 representatives from the coalition held a news conference Monday on the steps of Buffalo City Hall to press for the reforms.

Full Article: Coalition wants ‘fair elections’ legislation to be Albany’s first priority – The Buffalo News.

New York: Cuomo’s Election Day Holiday Call Surprises Even Advocates | NY1

If they didn’t know already, the breakdowns on Election Day reminded voters that New York has some of the most antiquated voting laws and processes in the country. From a lack of early voting to the fact that voters must declare a party affiliation more than six months before a primary, New York can make voting hard. “On this issue, we’re way far behind. New York is one of only 13 states that doesn’t have early voting,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of advocacy group Common Cause New York. “Texas adopted early voting in 1996. So it’s embarrassing.”

Full Article: Cuomo's Election Day Holiday Call Surprises Even Advocates.

New York: Election laws come under attack by Democrats | The Hill

Democrats preparing to take control of New York’s legislature are plotting to overhaul voting and elections laws that were last updated to protect the power of Tammany Hall. Legislators and voting rights activists say New York’s laws are among the nation’s most antiquated. It is one of a minority of states that do not allow voters to cast a ballot before Election Day, and its absentee ballot laws are among the most restrictive in the country. After notching big gains in the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic leaders who will take over the state Senate in January say they will act on a handful of measures meant to update those laws.

Full Article: New York’s election laws come under attack by Dems | TheHill.