Lever voting machines approved for mayoral election by Gov. Andrew Cuomo

A lever voting machine used in the 2008 election in Kingston, New York. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pauljoffe
A lever voting machine used in the 2008 election in Kingston, New York.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pauljoffe

With some misgivings, Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a bill Monday night allowing the city to use lever voting machines in the mayoral election this year.

While the legislation aims to ease the Board of Election’s burden in finalizing results from the Sept. 10 primary in time for a possible run-off election, Cuomo was skeptical in his approval that they would help much.

“I strongly believe the use of lever voting machines is a poor solution to the Board’s concerns,” Cuomo wrote in the approval.

He noted some of the “impediments the Board has cited have less burdensome solutions,” including changing count requirements and using high-speed scanner machines.

“Nevertheless, circumstances require that I sign this bill into law,” Cuomo said. “Preventing the use of lever voting machines through a veto could profoundly impact the integrity of this year’s election.”

Several good government and civil rights groups oppose the return of the levers, saying that they don’t allow voters to verify their choices on paper after casting a vote.

“These are the same machines that too often broke down for hours on Election Day, were missing candidate’s names on the ballot, and whose parts were near impossible to order in a timely fashion because they are so outdated,” read a joint statement by several groups such groups in May.

In his approval, Cuomo did note problems with the levers in the past.

“Indeed, they are often inaccessible to many voters with disabilities and can routinely ‘lose’ more votes than the optical scan systems in each election,” he said.

The bill also moves the date of a possible run-off election from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, giving the board more time to count the votes.

Cuomo’s approval said the levers may only be used in the primary and run-off elections for just this year.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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