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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-01-11 02:07 PM
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The Help America Vote Act--Help or hindrance?
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Here we go again. Another one of those pesky truth-telling election officials:

Your Vote Counts: The Help America Vote Act--Help or hindrance?
Written by VIRGINIA MARTIN
Saturday, 01 January 2011


REMEMBER FLORIDA 2000? Chads, hanging and dimpled. Confusion when we should have had conclusion. Not this country's proudest electoral moment.

Congress was embarrassed. So in 2002 it passed the Help America Vote Act. HAVA required states to improve electoral education, training and administration, and to make it possible for people with disabilities to cast their votes, privately and independently, with the rest of the electorate at the polling place.

Wait -- didn't HAVA also outlaw the lever voting machines that New York had been using for decades?

In a word: No.

But it did offer extra funding to states looking to upgrade their equipment...in New York's case, $50 million.

Wow -- such a deal. Except that our machines were working quite well, thank you, assuming they were appropriately maintained and all the crucial bipartisan checks and balances were executed. In many ways, they worked better than the electronic machines that replaced them.

-snip-

Having borne witness to the myriad problems other states were encountering with their newfangled electronic systems, our state Board of Elections was cautious. To their credit, they set the bar high. To their dismay, they located no worthy specimens. A really good electronic voting machine was beyond the state of the art.

-snip-

It's sad that, while New Yorkers associate HAVA with helping the disabled to vote, they also often associate HAVA with high costs and meddling -- with fixing something that wasn't broke. That's an unfair and tragic conflation of the reality.

Yes, HAVA gave people with disabilities the voting rights they deserved. No, HAVA didn't require us to give up our lever voting machines and substitute them with op-scans. Nor did HAVA require us to expend the money that we did (and will continue to). That was the work of our legislature when it grabbed the free money that was offered (as if federal money is manna from heaven) in order to modernize our voting equipment.

-snip-

Virginia Martin is Democratic election commissioner of Columbia County, New York. Read more at:
http://www.columbiapaper.com/index.php/component/conten...
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