Unfair Dismissal of County Legislative Resolution for PBOS

RED HOOK, NY – The County Legislative Chair “killed” a county resolution calling for paper ballots, counted with scanners (PBOS). This is the second time the Dutchess legislature refused to discuss the issue of HAVA compliant voting technology.

Last year, in September 2005, Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature Brad Kendall had removed from the Government Services Committee agenda a resolution recommending PBOS. Because a reason for removal of the item was not transmitted to the sponsors in a timely fashion, citizens vocally condemned the high-handed tactics of the majority party. The reason for removing the item from discussion and vote was “because the State had not yet certified machines and therefore the resolution was premature.”

This year the Democratic caucus re-submitted a resolution for consideration in May 2006. It was again not allowed on the agenda of the Government Services Committee. Committee Chair Mary Swartz denied consideration with these words: “Considering this resolution would exert undo (sic) political influence on a process that should be non-political in nature.”

Mid-Hudson Verified Voting believes this action is unfair. “The County Legislature must be involved in this issue. The fiscal implications of voting machines will be tremendous. Also, citizens want to be represented in the selection of new voting systems. For these reasons, a County Legislative resolution is appropriate.” said Vicky Perry, director of Mid-Hudson Verified Voting, a citizens group pushing for paper ballots and ballot scanners.

“County Resolutions represent the voice of citizens, and are a time honored method of expression.” said Bo Lipari, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting. “In New York citizens are shut out of the critical process of selecting voting systems. Many counties in New York have passed resolutions calling for support of paper ballot based voting systems. Elections belong to citizens, our voices must be heard.”

Ulster County and Putnam County Legislatures have both endorsed paper ballots and ballot scanners. “In Ulster County, we are looking hard at every issue that impacts our budget.” said Majority Whip Robert Parete of the Ulster County Legislature. “New voting systems will have a long-term effect; that is why we chose to support a proven technology. We owe it to our citizens.” And according to Ulster County Legislator Gary Bischoff, “There is no doubt in my mind that the best choice for new voting machines is a system that has proven to be reliable and gives us a paper trail actually filled in by the voter. That choice is a paper ballot optical scan system. The Ulster County Legislature took a strong stand on this issue. I would like to urge my colleagues in the Dutchess County Legislature to add their voice to a growing number of towns, cities and counties that have passed resolutions favoring paper ballot optical scan voting systems.” The city of Beacon recently passed a resolution unanimously calling for PBOS.

Over the past few months, several public events have been held in Dutchess County that focused on the changes we will experience when the Help America Vote Act is carried out. The clear message from the public was that paper ballot voting is the preferred solution. A legislative debate is called for to connect the public, through their elected officials, to the cornerstone of democracy – the vote.

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