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Common Cause/NY Tallies Lobby Spending of Voting Vendors as NYS Continues to Debate HAVA Implementation

For Immediate Release:
December 20, 2004

Common Cause/NY released updated data showing that voting machine vendors have spent over $850,000 dollars lobbying in New York on voting issues since 2002 and are poised to spend a million dollars by year’s end.

“New York State lags behind the nation in selecting machines and faces increasing deadlines to make a decision. Our concern is that in this high pressure situation, are lawmakers and the State Board of Elections listening to the lobbyists for the voting machine vendors rather than regular New Yorkers as we consider fundamental changes to how we vote in New York State?” stated Rachel Leon, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

When Common Cause/NY released the lobby spending of voting machine vendors between 2002-April, 2004, lobbyists in New York had received and spent a total of $497,358. Common Cause/NY has updated the tallies through the October filing date and has found that in the last six months, voting machine vendors have spent another $357,150. All told, from 2002 through October, 2004 voting machine vendors have spent a total of $854,508 lobbying in New York.   

“What is most striking about this data is that it is likely only the tip of the iceberg of lobbying dollars spent on HAVA related issues. Because vendors do not have to file reports on their lobbying for state contracts, we have no idea how much is being spent beyond this over $850,000 to win the voting machine and statewide database contracts. Lobby reform remains a priority as we examine how to ‘Fix Albany’ if we are to have a system of openness and accountability,” added Joanna Erenberg, Director of Special Projects at Common Cause/NY.

Vendors currently lobbying in NYS include: Accupoll, Danaher Controls, Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems and Software, Liberty Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Voting Machines Service Center.

There has been national debate about the role partisan politics should play in the voting machine selection process. While Common Cause/NY has not found campaign contributions from voting machine vendors to New York State candidates, on the federal level Diebold Inc.’s executives and employees have given $63,290 in campaign contributions since 1999. Of this, all but $4,775 was donated to Republican candidates and committees. In addition, Walden O’Dell, Chairman, President and CEO of Diebold Inc., was a Pioneer for President Bush’s reelection campaign

Major bills vendors lobbied on this year included: A8842A (computerized voter registration list), A8847A (statewide machine and machine requirements), A9433 (full face ballot), A9731 (electronic ballot format), A9725 (voter verified paper audit trail), S5686 (HAVA fund and voter complaint procedure), S5687 (appropriates $ to HAVA fund), S5905 (electronic ballot format), S5906 (voter verified paper audit trail), S6201 (statewide voter registration list), S6202 (HAVA fund), S6203 (appropriates $ to HAVA fund), S6204 (HAVA complaint procedure), S6205 (voter registration), S6207 (voting machines modernization act of 2004). (see data for full list).

In New York State, some towns and counties are moving ahead and contracting with Sequoia to purchase new machines, assuming they will be reimbursed when the state passes legislation. Clifton Park in Saratoga County and Phoenix in Oswego County have both used Sequoia machines in recent elections. The Post Standard reported in a recent article that according to Onondaga County Election Commissioner Helen Kiggins, the county has picked out a Sequoia machine and wants to purchase them as soon as they become state certified.

Common Cause/NY, 155 Avenue of the Americas, 4th Floor , New York, NY 10013 | phone 212-691-6421 | fax 212-807-180