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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Unscanned Ballots Threaten Integrity of NY Primary

A few press reports seem to be snowballing. The new ballot scanning devices -- which are supposed to scan holes punched in by voters -- are not working as well as planned. These problems, plus untrained poll workers, threaten the very integrity of the primary elections. In races with small turnouts, even one machine malfunction can result in enough (a) uncounted votes, (b) undervotes where some individual votes are not counted, or (c) non-votes from discouraged voters who showed up ready to vote but became (or were driven to be) so discouraged -- or simply couldn't wait any longer -- that they left for school, work, home or other commitment without voting.

The effective interference with the right to vote is fairly evident.  Furthermore, as parts of New York City remain "covered districts" for purposes of the federal Voting Rights Act, it would seem sensible that the Department of Justice will be curious -- read: they will investigate -- about the reasons behind both the malfunctions and the very selection of the machines by the New York City Board of Elections.
 Stay tuned...The implications of these malfunctions could be enormous.  I think this could affect some prominent political race results.

Eric Dixon is a New York election lawyer and president of Eric Dixon LLC. He provides strategic analysis, litigation consulting, crisis management and political consulting services in addition to legal services. He is available for comment at 917-696-2442 and

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