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LibertyVote Leaves New York PDF  | Print |  Email
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
April 23, 2008
Last of the DREs pull outs of the Empire State

It is now official. Liberty Election Systems has withdrawn their DRE from the New York State and has informed the State Board of Elections that they will not pursue further certification testing or fill their one current order. LibertyVote was promoting the Dutch Nedap DRE in New York State, but needed to post another $750,000 bond to cover the costs of ongoing certification testing as required by state regulations. Apparently LibertyVote and their partner Nedap decided it was time to stop throwing good money after bad and pulled the plug. LibertyVote/Nedap was the only remaining vendor offering a DRE in New York. The move represents the end of an era in New York State, and could be a harbinger for what lies ahead in the rest of the nation.

From way back in 2002, voting machine vendors were licking their lips at New York’s big $220 million dollar chunk of the HAVA pie. And right from the start they pitched the idea that “New York State was a DRE state”, a phrase which pretty much everyone bought into except for the citizen advocates who fought a long hard campaign to overcome this ‘accepted wisdom’.

The DREs pitched in New York, while sharing all the same problems and vulnerabilities of models used in other states, had a unique requirement – the touch screen needed to be very, very, very large, to accommodate New York’s full face ballot, resulting in a typically huge machine that weighed hundreds of pounds; was difficult to transport and store; and begged the question – what’s it going to cost to replace that big touch screen?


But what looked like a done deal four years ago slowly but steadily became something akin to rats leaving a sinking ship. As pressure from the public increased and support for DREs eroded among state election officials and legislators, one by one vendors abandoned their DREs for paper ballot based systems. First ES&S abandoned their giant behemoth of a DRE. Last summer, Sequoia quietly dumped their multiple-touchscreen Advantage DRE for a new hybrid Ballot Marker and Scanner. And Avante withdrew last month when no county ordered their tank-sized DRE. But only LibertyVote/Nedap hung in there with a DRE until the bitter end.

Past the bitter end actually, because in January LibertyVote’s DRE was denied certification by the State Board of Elections, which should have been the end of it. But the company sued the State Board of Elections in State Supreme Court. In a surprise ruling the Court ordered the DRE back on the list of machines available for purchase by counties.

However, when the New York’s 58 counties placed machine orders several weeks later, only rural Hamilton county had ordered the Dutch DREs, and only 11 of them at that. Even with this miniscule order the DRE vendor seemed prepared to go ahead, but when the bill for the cost of ongoing certification testing came due last week they must have realized the time had come to fold their cards.

So for the first time since HAVA passed in 2002, New York State has no DREs of any type being purchased by any county, or undergoing NYS certification testing for 2009 purchases. For the vendors who for 6 years told us “New York is a DRE state”, we tell you now as we told you then, “Wrong. New York is a paper ballot state.”
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