Volume 80, Number 12 | August 19 - 25, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

File photo by Q. Sakamaki

As part of the effort to familiarize voters with the new voting methods, in October 2008, a demonstration was held at Selis Manor on W. 23rd St., a residence for the blind, vision impaired and disabled. For those unable to use a paper ballot, the Ballot Marking Device, or B.M.D., above, allows them to vote using any of four methods: touch screen, foot pedals, Braille or sip-and-puff.

New voting systems get mixed reviews at Demo demo

By Cynthia Romero

There were plenty of questions and concerns at a demonstration of the new voting machines at Father Demo Hall in Our Lady of Pompei Church on Carmine St. on Aug. 11. A group of about 60 people listened in on a demonstration held by the Board of Elections to educate voters how to use the new Poll Site Voting System (P.V.S.) and prepare New Yorkers for the upcoming elections.

Some of the questions pertained to the system’s complexity and a voter’s privacy. Demonstrators assured the crowd that the system was designed to give voters the utmost level of privacy during elections.

“What happens if I overvoted?” asked East Side resident Melina Cantore. “What do I do then?”

The solution, as demonstrators explained, is quite simple. The machine will recognize that there is a mistake and give the voter the option to either eject the ballot and get another opportunity to cast a vote, or simply accept the vote “as is.”

Voters mark their paper ballots with a special pen, insert them into a privacy sleeve and then feed them into a scanner that records their vote. The marks are not erasable. The portable electronic voting system uses a scanner to read and process marked ballots and tally results. This, in turn, allows for ballots to be tallied at the poll site.

For those unable to use paper ballots, the Ballot Marking Device (B.M.D.), is provided as another way to vote. The B.M.D. allows voters to use a touch screen to mark their ballot and make any corrections necessary before and after submitting their votes.

“I like the fact that the Ballot Marking Device is going to give us the ability to vote in a more private manner,” said Chelsea resident Muriel Ballami. “I think this way there will be less confusion over the tallied ballots. We should’ve done away with levers years ago.”

The new poll voting system will be in place just in time for the fall 2010 elections.

“We want people to get informed on how to use these new machines, especially since the September primaries are so close,” said Jonathan Geballe, acting president of the Village Independent Democrats political club.

The new voting machines are the result of a federal law that mandated new voting systems after the 2000 election controversy in Florida.

Not everyone at the demonstration was satisfied with the new voting system. Some, like West Side resident Henry Emerrick, thought the machines were too complicated and didn’t provide the same experience the old pull-lever voting booths did.

“I’m not convinced,” he said. “I feel like I’m not really voting. It’s almost like I’m sending a text message. It’s less personal and there’s just something about the lever, you know.”

For more information, visit www.vote.nyc.ny.us .


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