Southern Brooklyn

Complications Holding Up The Return Of Lever Voting Machines

Source: Blue387 via Wikimedia Commons
Source: Blue387 via Wikimedia Commons

The fight to bring back the old lever voting machines has picked up significant momentum since Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed the measure in May. Politicians like Bloomberg and State Senator Marty Golden want to bring back the old machines for the upcoming mayoral race due to fears that the $60 million worth of new digital voting equipment – loathed by most voters, and the source of recount bungling by Board of Election officials – cannot be reprogrammed in time to account for a potential runoff.

The Assembly introduced a bill to reintroduce the old lever voting machines for this year’s elections, but the bill has key difference from the Senate version which has already passed. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Assembly’s bill limits the use of old lever voting machines to this year’s primary and possibly runoff elections, whereas the Senate bill allows the machine to be used for any non-federal election.

The Board of Elections is prepared to employ 5,700 of the 6,000 lever voting machines they have in storage, which they consider enough to cover the event of a potential runoff in the upcoming mayoral election. An automatic runoff happens when no candidate receives the required 40 percent needed to win the primary before the general election.

Still, there are those in the Board of Elections (BOE) that believe that returning to the older machines would be a mistake and that the new machines could be ready in time for the mayor’s race. The Board has come up with a plan to have the new digital voting machines ready for a runoff, but if the state votes for an exemption they can overrule the BOE, forcing them to roll out the older machines.