Ridgites get to test new voting machines

Bay Ridgites will have a chance to test out New York’s new computerized voting machines a week before they have to use them for real on Primary Day during a demonstration of the new technology at Community Board 10’s office.

The machines, which use optical scanners to read and record voters’ selections on a paper ballot, will be available for testing on Sept. 7, from 7 to 9 pm at 8119 Fifth Ave., with representatives of the city’s Board of Elections on hand.

The new voting machines replace the venerable lever machines, which were finally retired because they do not comply with federal regulations. The old machines were mechanical, with all votes recorded on an internal counter based on levers turned by voters on a board that showed all the choices. The lever machines had no paper trail.

The Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002 in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election, and requires that voting machines be handicapped-accessible, re-countable, and provide a second chance to vote, in case of error.

New York is the last state in the country to comply with the federal legislation, and was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2006, because of its snail-like pace in making the changes required by the law.

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