Friday, March 24, 2006

Fed Court: NY Must "HAVA" Plan by April 10!

This is a slightly biased article is from Newsday. I point out the bias in [brackets.]

By MARC HUMBERT, Associated Press Writer
March 23, 2006, 4:29 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A federal judge on Thursday ordered New York to come up with a plan by April 10 to comply with provisions of the Help America Vote Act requiring new voting machines the disabled can use this fall.

New York, which has lagged behind ["Lagged behind?" NY was deliberative! (They don't want to go like Ohi0 2004 or Florida 2000)] all other states in complying with the act adopted in the wake of the disputed 2000 presidential election, was sued March 1 by the U.S. Justice Department. It was the first such suit filed by the federal government against a state over non-HAVA compliance.

Thursday's order, from U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe, also requires the state show him a plan to ensure a centralized, statewide voter registration system. [Whether it actually works or not.]

Lee Daghlian, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, said the plan to be presented to the judge will likely be an updated version of one the board had been working on with Justice Department officials when the lawsuit was filed.

The judge refused to allow several interest groups, including the state League of Women Voters, to intervene in the case. They are worried the state will be forced to move too quickly and be stuck with new voting machines that aren't satisfactory over the long term.

Under HAVA, state officials are looking to replace all of New York's approximately 20,000 lever-action voting machines with high-tech devices. But the state board has said it is not feasible to have new machinery in place everywhere until the 2007 elections.

The federal lawsuit seeks to force the state to have new machinery in place, at least for the disabled, by this fall's elections.

Critics of the lawsuit have said it threatens to force the state and its counties into buying technology that might have to be quickly replaced, ultimately wasting money. The federal government has already given New York $220 million to update its voting system.

"The process is being rushed," said Neal Rosenstein of the New York Public Interest Research Group in the wake of the judge's action Thursday.

Rosenstein said voting rights for disabled people are important but "it's not a huge segment of the population."

Daghlian said the elections board is trying to determine how many disabled voters there are in the state.

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