Another in our series of real life stories … how it actually works for real election officials to test a new voting system that they might be adopting for use in the state.

The backplot is that New York State has been unwilling to give up its admittedly no-longer-legal*  lever machines, until the the state Board of Elections is confident that they have a replacement that not only meets Federal standards, but also is reliable and meeting similar requirements met by the old lever machines. There have been several setbacks in the adoption process, but the latest phase is some detailed testing of the candidate systems. (For the real voting tech geeks, what’s being tested is a hybrid of the Dominion ImageCast scanner/Ballot Marking Device and the ES&S DS200 scanner with the Automark BMD.)

Bo Lipari is is on the Advisory Committee for this process, and has reported in detail on the testing process. You don’t have to be a complete election geek to scan Bo’s tales, and be impressed with the level and breadth of of diligence, and the kinds of kinks and hiccups that can occur. And of course the reportage is very helpful to us, as a concrete example of what kind of real life testing is needed for any new voting system, open or closed, to be accepted for use in U.S. elections.


* No-longer-legal means that NY state law was changed to require replacement of lever machines. In the initial release of this note I erroneously said that the replacement requirement was driven by HAVA. Thanks again to alert readers (see comments below) for the catch, and for providing many resources on the vexed question of “HAVA compliant” generally and lever machines specifically.

2 responses to Tales From Real Life: Testing

  1. Brad Friedman

    You write: “The backplot is that New York State has been unwilling to give up its admittedly not HAVA compliant lever machines”

    Who has admitted that? How are levers not HAVA compliant? The facts are that levers are perfectly HAVA compliant. Whether you or I like them at all, of course, is an entirely different matter. But I believe the article above merits a correction on that point.