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State board issues voting machine regs

Associated Press    November 2, 2005

ALBANY, N.Y. The state Board of Elections gave tentative approval Wednesday to regulations governing new machines that are supposed to replace that icon of New York voting _ the lever-action model.

The lever-action voting machine was first demonstrated in Lockport, N.Y., in 1892 and soon became the dominant system all across New York and much of the nation. It is still the primary voting system used in New York.

But under provision of the federal Help America Vote Act, adopted in the wake of the disputed 2000 presidential election, the mechanical lever machines are supposed to be replaced in time for the 2006 election.

The regulations approved Wednesday by the board mirror orders given them by the state Legislature. The regulations will allow electronic voting machines, including touch-screen models, and optical scan machinery as long as it includes a backup system that would serve disabled voters.

The board action will lead to a 45-day public comment period after which the board can modify the regulations. Board spokesman Lee Daghlian said the commissioners also decided to hold several public hearings across the state during the comment period.

Election officials are rushing against the 2006 election deadline amid warnings that it may not be met. Prospective new voting machines must still be certified by the board as meeting the regulations and it is only after that is done that counties can begin purchasing the new machines.

"It's going to be tight," Daghlian said Wednesday.

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