Voters in Tuesday's primary elections will be among the first in New York State to use the new OPTical scan electronic voting system.
The Nassau County Board of Elections sponsored a public demonstration of the new machines Sept. 8 at the Senior Recreation Center in Garden City in order to familiarize voters with the new technology. The demonstration was meant to show just how easy it was to use the new machines and to prove that the changes would not hinder any citizen's ability to cast their vote.
"If you can use an ATM you'll have no problem with the new machine," an election board representative said.
Garden City resident and adamant Republican Chris Tramposch agreed with the assessment. "Computers are wonderful, it may be an issue for others, but they can be taught," Tramposch said.
However, not all of those present at the demonstration shared Tramposch's confidence in the new machines.
"I think they will be fine for the younger generation, but stressful and confusing to the elderly and to anyone who, quite frankly, has a vision or motor issue because you're moving from place to place carrying a paper or privacy sleeve," another resident said. "I just think it will be awkward, and to a mother with young kids it's just cumbersome.
"What seems simple to us, who grew up with calculators and all sorts of things is not simple. It's never as simple if you're not comfortable with it, I think it's going to be stressful … very stressful," she said.
The state of New York is the last to implement OPTical scan machines into the voting process. Following the confusion of the fallout from the 2000 presidential election, Congress voted to upgrade the nation's voting machines under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002. However, New York is only now complying with the ruling, one many residents still adamantly oppose. The state's Election Reform and Modernization Act (ERMA) of 2005 mandated that lever machines be replaced with software-based voting machines.
Nassau County in particular disagrees with the decision, and lost a recent legal bid this year to avoid deploying the new machines.
"We are going to state court and we are going to have ERMA declared unconstitutional," Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli said in a statement.
Due to the proximity of the primaries, the electronic voting machines are the only ones which will be used. It is not clear if a case will be brought to court and ruled upon before the general election on Nov. 2.
For more information call the Nassau County Board of Elections at 516-571-VOTE (8683) or visit www.nassauvotes.com.