County considers lawsuit over computerized voting machines

Any close election, according to county election commissioners Mary Beth Casey and Bill Montfort, would be subject to a recount.

Any recount, they warned supervisors, would be labor-intensive and costly.

Casey said that in a recent voting test in Oswego County, a mere test audit took 907 hours man-hours, costing about $10,000 in labor.

"It took 90 minutes for every 100 ballots, and this was an audit, strictly counting the ballots, and not a recount or a recanvass, which could cost three times as much," she said.

These more stringent processes, she said, when implemented in Warren County, could take 44 people a full work-week to perform their work at $10 or more per hour, she said.

Purchasing the 88,000 or more custom-printed ballots needed per election would be costly, Montfort said, noting the additional cost of securing and storing the ballots, both filled out and blank, for several years.

Pending state policy would require that after each election, county election officials must randomly pick 3 percent of all the ballots and perform an audit, and if the hand-count and examination didn't mach the computer results exactly, a full audit of all ballots would be necessary for every machine in every district.

Queensbury at-large supervisor David Strainer said Friday the pending system was a potential crushing burden to the state's counties, as well as frustrating to the voters, because the new machines are not easy to use.

"This new system will disenfranchise voters, who are likely to stay home and not vote," he said. "The machines are untested, unreliable, subject to tampering, and they take excessive time and money."

Monroe noted that the voting machines will need to be stored in a climate-controlled secured facility, which may cost $2 million for Warren County to build.

Also, they'll need periodic inspection, plus software maintenance and upgrades. Plus, they'll have to be delivered back and forth to poll sites at considerable expense, while the existing lever-operated machines are now stored on-site by the individual municipalities, he said.

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