New York City’s mayoral primaries were held last week, and I was apparently the only person in my electoral district to get on board for the great populist uprising… but, no matter. The rest of the city took care of everything for me.
For this primary (and only this primary), The Board of Elections wisely decided to bring back the vintage, 1960s-era, 900lb lever voting machines, which had been mothballed in 2009 after a decades-long effort to modernize the state’s voting machines. Why? The Board wasn’t confident of their ability to perform a recount using the new optical scanners, in the event that a runoff election would be called.
The largest manufacturer of the lever machines, the Automatic Voting Machine Corporation of Jamestown, NY, went bankrupt in 1983, the same year that the City of New York started to consider replacing the then-20-year-old machines with computerized models.
In an effort to upgrade antiquated voting technology and avoid a replay of the 2000 presidential election donnybrook, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002, sealing the fate of the Shoup and AVM lever voting machines. New York’s paralyzed legislature was still unable to act, though, so the Justice Department sued New York in 2006, and the optical scanners were finally introduced in 2009.
And now, after only 3 years, the lever machines are back en vogue. I’d meant to record the dying sound of voting via these machines, but got distracted by the hubbub of the voting process. Fortunately, my girlfriend was willing to help out!