The New York State Board of Elections voted Wednesday to certify touch-screen voting machines for use in future elections, despite widespread opposition from election security experts, voting rights advocates and even celebrities.
As a result of the vote, county election boards may now choose to purchase and use a machine called the ExpressVote XL, a shift away from the paper ballot system currently used across the state.
Rather than voters filling out a paper ballot to be scanned, the ExpressVote XL lets users cast their votes directly through a 32-inch touch screen. A copy of each voter’s ballot is printed on thermal paper for review behind a glass screen. Once approved by a voter, each ballot is converted into a barcode and submitted for tabulation in the same machine.
Supporters of the machines argue that they remove the risk that a voter’s intent is misinterpreted because of poor penmanship. They machines also boost the accessibility of non-English speaking voters.
Opponents of the ExpressVote XL machines say they’re susceptible to cyberattacks and eliminate the trail of paper ballots that can be reviewed in cases where concerns are raised about election security or accuracy.
“We should be steering county elections officials towards hand-marked papers,” Douglas Kellner, a Democratic commissioner on the NY Board of Elections, said during Wednesday’s meeting. “This system is significantly more expensive and has these other issues and lacks the confidence of a substantial number of voters in the community.”
Peter Kosinski, a Republican commissioner disagreed with Kellner, stating that it is up to county voters and their county board to decide if they want to use the machines.
Election Systems and Software has disputed the claim that ballots cast on its ExpressVote XL machines cannot be easily audited.
“The system complies with stringent state and federal election regulations, ensuring that every vote cast using the ExpressVote XL is properly recorded and securely stored,” Tim Hallett, vice president of certification at Election Systems and Software, said in a press release.
New York joins a growing list of states adopting the ExpressVote XL machines, which includes Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.