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New Voting Machines Debut With Problems in NY

New York's new electronic voting machines madetheir debut in Tuesday's statewide primary with scattered hiccups,including reports of non-working machines that resulted in longlines at a few polling sites.

New York was the last state to comply with the federal HelpAmerica Vote Act, and voting rights advocates have been nervouslyeyeing primary day as the first test of the electronic system.

Instead of pulling levers - as New York voters have done for 80years - the state's polling sites presented voters Tuesday withpaper ballots to mark by pen and feed into ATM-like machines.

In one New York City suburb, some voters were turned away orgiven emergency ballots while a few machines were out of servicefor about 2½ hours.

And the Election Protection Coalition said it had receivedreports of a few machines breaking down in New York City. Eachpolling site is supposed to have two working machines, and thegroup said it was aware of at least three sites where one machinewas not working, and one site where both machines were down for aperiod of time.

The coalition receives reports through its hot line and hasvolunteers monitoring high-turnout sites.

State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said the reportsof problems were at a typical level, no different from what wasexperienced with the lever machines.

"As far as we're concerned, it's the normal amount for anelection day," Conklin said.

Meanwhile, voters gave mixed reviews of the machines that wereworking.

"I found it a little confusing," said Nancey Flowers, aftervoting in Brooklyn. "I liked the older lever mechanism better."

Karen Benezra pronounced it "generally pretty painless" aftervoting in Manhattan.

"It was all right," she said. "Pretty easy to use. It justtakes a bit longer to actually vote for all 12 people if you'retrying to fill out circles versus just flipping levers."

The Help American Vote Act was enacted in response to thecontested Florida presidential vote in 2000. It directed states toadopt simpler voting systems to avoid problems like what led to theinfamous recount there.

The lever machines violated HAVA guidelines because they aredifficult for people with disabilities to use and do not provide apaper trail if the outcome of a vote is disputed.


Associated Press Writers Jim Fitzgerald and Karen Matthewscontributed to this story

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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