Testimony before the New York State Board of Elections, January 14, 2021

by Howie Hawkins

My name is Howie Hawkins. I have been on statewide New York ballot seven times as a candidate for the Green Party: for Comptroller in 1998 and 2002; for US Senate in 2006; for Governor in 2010, 2014, and 2018; and for President in 2020.

New York now uses the gold standard for election integrity: voter-marked, machine-scanned paper ballots that can be readily audited and recounted in public view to ensure an accurate count of the vote.

I urge Board of Elections not to lower New York’s standards of election integrity by certifying the ES&S ExpressVote XL Voting Machine.

At at time when so many Americans do not believe the results of the presidential election in part because of distrust of electronic voting machines, it is particularly important that New York state not lose the confidence of the voters in election results. That could happen by switching to touch-screen ballot-marking devices that security experts warn, and election experience has shown, are prone to mistakes and malicious hacking.

I have many additional specific concerns with the ExpressVote XL machines, but I will focus on three here:

1. The printout of the voted ballot ExpressVote XL machine gives a barcode for the votes that the machine reads but the voter can’t read and verify. Security experts warn that this system creates opportunities for mistakes or deliberate manipulation to alter election outcomes. The ExpressVote XL machines miscounted tens of thousands of votes elections in Northampton County, Pennsylvania in 2019.

2. Touchscreen voting causes long lines because only one person can mark their ballot at a time per machine as opposed to many people voting on hand-marked ballots at the same time. Long lines make voters feel pressured to hurry up and not check to see if their vote was properly recorded on the paper ballot under the glass by the machine.

3. Ballot-marking devices are necessary for some people with disabilities and they should be accommodated. We should not require ballot-marking devices that disable everyone from having a verifiable voter-marked paper ballot to cast.

95% of the vote in the US in 2020 had a paper trail, up from 75% in 2016 and 60% in 2006 when paperless electronic voting was near its peak after the 2002 Help America Vote Act encouraged electronic voting machines as a remedy to the problems with the mechanical punchcard and lever-based voting machines in 2000 in Florida. The electronic ballot-marking devices had their own problems for election integrity and election administrators have been moving away from them all across the nation.

New York State should not now go backwards by allowing a ballot-marking device that also tabulates votes to replace hand-marked voter-verified paper ballots that are easily audited and recounted in public view.

Howie Hawkins 2020

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