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New York: Common Cause says "Voters, Not Machines, Should Elect Candidates"

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 01:23 AM
Original message
New York: Common Cause says "Voters, Not Machines, Should Elect Candidates"
Edited on Sat Dec-18-10 01:27 AM by Bill Bored

For Immediate Release Dec. 16, 2010:

Voters, Not Machines, Should Elect Candidates
Accuracy and reliability, not expediency, should be the
goal of counting votes, says good government watchdog Common Cause/NY.

Last evening, on the same day that it heard oral argument, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department held that it is more important to have a final count than an accurate count in the contested race for New York State Senate District 7. Challenger Jack Martins (R) currently leads incumbent Craig Johnson (D) by less than 500 votes based on the machine vote tally. Johnson lost an earlier petition calling for a full hand count of all ballots, arguing that the close margin and voting system errors discovered in the post election audit necessitated a manual vote count. A judge denied the petition on December 4th, prompting Johnson to appeal. A Martins victory will give the Republicans control of the New York State Senate raising the stakes of this election. While counsel representing both sides in this highly partisan battle argued for their respective candidates, we believe it is essential that the voice of New York voters be heard above all else.

"We are disappointed that the Court has chosen expediency over an accurate vote count in the most recent ruling in the Senate District 7 race," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "Voters need to be sure that elections are decided on the basis of the votes cast and accurately counted, not on an approximation that ignores machine error rates. This case sets a poor precedent and contributes to an atmosphere that discourages New Yorkers from voting."

Because this election marks the first statewide election held on paper ballot and optical scanners in New York State, it is important that New Yorkers have confidence that our voting system will accurately and faithfully represent the choice of the voters.

The race was very close with Martins winning by only 415 votes of 81,667 counted in the machine tally, giving him a margin of .5%. Moreover, of the seven machines audited in this particular race, three had errors showing a difference between the electronic tally (the machine count) and the manual count and a machine error rate of 43%.

In an election in which the margin is this small and the error rate is this high, New Yorkers should not be forced to accept a possibly flawed election result for the sake of speed or convenience. New York wisely chose a system that records the voters' intent plainly and permanently on paper ballots and made provisions in the election law that in the event of a counting error, the will of the people can always be determined by a hand count. A complete hand recount of this race would take only a few days and would eliminate any doubt that the machines may have miscounted. And it would serve the voters above all else.

Common Cause/ New York submitted a letter to the Appellate Division to argue the case for a full hand recount on behalf of the voters of New York. We are disappointed that Court failed to protect the voters' interest and will of the people when deciding this case and hope that the ruling will be appealed.

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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 07:43 AM
Response to Original message
1. When will this nightmare of insanity end?
All the people want from their judges is COMMON SENSE. It's been so long since judges have shown even a rudimentary sense of reason and justice that a decision like this one just seems expected.

It's really like living in a nightmare when the most illogical and crazy and scary things happen just as a matter of course.

Par for the course.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 09:23 AM
Response to Original message
2. CC/NY Steps up - NYVV = AWOL
Edited on Sat Dec-18-10 09:34 AM by Wilms
It's very much appreciated that CC/NY showed up to petition the court for a verified count in such a thin-margined election.
More so in that Bo Lipari's "New Yorkers for Verified Voting" decided to sit on the sidelines, trembling at the notion that even more inaccuracies would be exposed in the optical systems they sold to New York's Voters. (See the discussion on this thread: )

If you look at NYVV's home page today, it reads in part:

    There is still much to do. Here is a sampling of the issues that we need to continue to work on:

      Changing New York State law and regulation to providing understandable, easy to read ballots;
      Ensuring that the poll closing are transparent to the public and scanner results are announced to observers at the polls;
      Protecting voter privacy in the polling locations;
      Using Ballot Markers to their full potential;
      Protecting against the increasing calls for Internet voting an unverifiable and insecure voting method rapidly gaining traction.

    We now need to replenish NYVV's treasury so that we can continue to our activities. /

Not one mention for the need for verified election results! They merely want to "continue" their "activities" muddying the waters and obstructing the efforts of election reformers.

To hell with counting ballots. NYVV is busy counting bucks!

      Bucks Lipari

Better to donate to Common Cause New York

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eomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
3. K&R
Thanks, guys, for staying relentlessly on this.
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Blue Owl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-18-10 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
4. Supreme Court = CORRUPT
So obviously corrupt.

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Dan Jacoby Donating Member (4 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-30-10 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
5. Bush v. Gore again
Once again, a top court stopped counting the ballots. This New York state Court of Appeals has proven, on a smaller scale, to be as incompetent and stupid as the current U.S. Supreme Court.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-31-10 02:53 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Welcome to DU! NY election law has never allowed full post-election-night recounts.
Edited on Fri Dec-31-10 02:56 PM by Bill Bored
NY election law has never allowed post-election-night recounts of paper ballots that were counted at the polls. The court understood that much. They could have made it clear that the reason for this was the ballot tampering that occurred in past elections, but they wouldn't even go there.

All they did was affirm the lower courts' decision to certify the election, without hearing expert testimony, as a non-abuse of discretion.

The Dem lawyers did NOT have that testimony available to show the high court, which could have ordered the lower court to hear it.

You can read that testimony yourself here:

This makes me think the Dems may have just been putting on a show and had no intention of getting all the votes counted. After all, they didn't fight for a hand count in Erie County, where they lost a Senate seat in another close race and there were definite bugs discovered in the voting system. Assemblymember and Senator-elect Gianaris was litigating that one.

Many of the arguments made by the Repubs in the SD 7 case could have been refuted by the Dem lawyers, but weren't. Either they're not the brightest lights on the tree, or they decided to take a dive so Andy Cuomo could have his undivided (GOP) Senate to work with. This way, he can blame the Repubs for all the budget cuts he'll have to make, etc. That's hard to do with one-party rule.
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Dan Jacoby Donating Member (4 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-03-11 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Dems are all too often wimps
I have to agree that Democrats didn't make much of a case in court, which (unfortunately) is all too often the situation. Even David Boies did a lousy job in Bush v. Gore -- he should have maintained that the Bush position regarding recounts (based on the equal protection clause), if upheld, would have led to a mandatory re-election in just about every state in the country (because most states have more than one method of voting, thereby denying equal protection), but he didn't.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-03-11 08:45 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. I agree the Dems did a piss-poor job of litigating this case in NY.
Edited on Mon Jan-03-11 08:46 PM by Bill Bored
They let stand some arguments that the Repubs made which were pure BS and easy to refute. They were unsuccessful in getting expert witnesses to testify, perhaps because they (the Dems) did not understand the testimony themselves, or the value of it.

The Court of Appeals, to their credit, asked some really good questions. They WANTED a legal standard to go by, and at this point in NY, there's an opportunity to present your own interpretation of the law since it's vague and has not yet been tested. While the Repubs had no trouble doing this, even though their interpretation was wrong, the Dems did almost nothing, relying instead on some NYC recount standard, and citing recount standards from other states, none of which is particularly well thought out.

See this post for more information about this:

It was a horror show!
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