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County not purchasing touchscreen voting machines

Electronic voting will not be taking place in Chautauqua County.

A new controversial electronic voting machine that has been approved by the state Board of Elections won’t be coming to Chautauqua County any time soon.

Last week, the state Board of Elections agreed by a 3-1 vote to allow counties to purchase and use the ExpressVote XL digital voting machine. It uses touchscreens for voters to choose the candidates they want for elected offices and then cast their votes. The machine then prints a ballot on thermal paper, which the voter can view through a glass screen but is not allowed to handle. The ballot is then converted into a barcode, which is fed into a machine that records the results.

Currently, all voting machines in New York operate with paper ballots that the voter fills out by hand and feeds into a tallying machine.

According to the Albany Times Union, there are a number of concerns raised about the new machines.

Some of the concerns include security systems vulnerable to a rogue employee and limited access to a clear paper record of how a person voted and whether the screen showed them all possible choices.

The Time Union also reports that Common Cause NY outlined its concern that the ExpressVote XL “fails to meet” the state’s requirements on the technology’s source code security requirements and because the votes are counted through an “unreadable barcode.”

On Monday, Chautauqua County Republican Election Commissioner Brian Abram said they are in the final stages of updating the county’s original 2008 purchase of 100 Dominion Optical Scan ImageCast machines. “Over the past 5 years we have bought a yearly allotment of updated Dominion Optical Scan ImageCast ICE machines to phase out the older model. We will not be purchasing any of the ES&S ExpressVote XL system touchscreen machines,” he said.

Douglas Kellner, a Democratic commissioner on the NY Board of Elections, was the sole vote against the ExpressVote XL digital machine. “We should be steering county elections officials towards hand-marked papers,” he said, according to the Times Union. “This system is significantly more expensive and has these other issues and lacks the confidence of a substantial number of voters in the community.”

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