Sunday, March 1, 2009

Broome County Election Budget Impact

This unnecessary switch to op-scanners has some hidden costs taxpayers should know about. Nancy Dooling, a staff writer at in Binghamton, cited some interesting budget numbers in her article, Old lever machines may count vote again, on January 25th.

Officials are already looking at the expected cost of the [optical scan with paper audit] system. For instance, if the new system is in place, the board will have to purchase enough paper ballots to meet state guidelines. No one knows if this will be one, two or three ballots per voter, Faughnan said. The state hasn't yet made up its mind on the issue.

At 65 cents each and with up to 116,000 potential voters in Broome, the cost for paper ballots could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. With one countywide race this year, all of Broome's voting districts will likely need different ballots, especially with some local offices up for re-election this year.

Factor in the cost of training more than 1,000 local elections inspectors and the price will continue to mount, Faughnan said. A public campaign to help Broome voters become familiar with the new system is also expected to cost money in overtime and in practice paper ballots.
The sidebar at the site includes a concise overview of the replacement issue, but neglects the issues inherent in replacing levers with a software-based system. The final comment, my emphasis, says it all:
Broome's machines have been certified for use by disabled voters, Republican election commissioner Eugene Faughnan said. They haven't been certified to state standards for all voters. Fortunately for voters, the old lever machines remain safe in storage.

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