NEW YORK—Lever machines are officially back in New York City.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned his signature to bill 7832-B on Tuesday, allowing the archaic voting machines back for the primaries and possible runoff elections this September.
There was no celebratory exclamation point on the bill, as the governor has done on past bills he has been excited to sign into law. The memo attached to the bill, which passed the State Legislature last month, carried a somber tone.
“I strongly believe the use of lever voting machines is a poor solution to the Board’s concerns,” Cuomo’s memo said, speaking of the City Board of Elections (BOE). “Most, if not all, of the impediments the Board has cited have less burdensome solutions, from changes in the Board’s own hand count requirements to the use of high-speed scanner offered by the Board’s vendor, to increase efficiency in completing the required testing.”
Echoing the concerns of voting advocacy groups, Cuomo raised concerns of inaccessibility for the disabled community and lost votes on the lever machines. These concerns were some of the key reasons New York City switched from lever machines in the first place.
Cuomo had the option to veto the bill, but said in his memo the move would profoundly impact the integrity of the elections. He added that since the bill does not extend past this election year, he would sign.
The bill also moved the date of the possible run-off to October 1, 2013, to avoid conflicting with the Jewish holiday, Sukkot.
To comply with federal regulations, the city must use the newer optical scanners, like those used in the Presidential election this past fall, for the general election on November 5.
Following the governor signing the bill into law on Tuesday, the city BOE voted in favor of bringing the lever machines back with a unanimous vote, according to Chester Soria of Gotham Gazette. President Frederic Umane and Secretary Gregory Soumas did not attend the meeting.
Former BOE commissioner J.C. Polanco took to Twitter to display his outrage. “Lever machines was a lazy solution,” Polanco tweeted. He called for changing the election laws to extend the time between the primary and the runoff, and reduce the number of test ballots.