New York City Board of Elections

Staff Study: Acquisition and Implementation of an Electronic Voting System for the Board of Elections in the City of New York

With over three million registered voters, New York City has the second largest electoral system in the nation. The Board of Elections (BoE) currently has about 7,200 necganical voting machines which it uses at over 1,200 polling sites during elections. For the last ten years the BoE and the City's department of General Services have been engaged in a project to replace the inventory of aging, but still quite functional machines, with an electronic voting system (EVS). The project is expected to exceed $100 million including debt service. We reviewed the progress of the project to determine whether replacing the current system is justifiable based upon the costs and benefits to the City's taxpayers. Our study reveals that the new electronic machines offer few benefits, given the cost of the project. In our view, the collection of election night results will take at least as much time, nor will the ultimate results of the election be any more accurate as a result of the new EVS. Questions still linger about the security of the computer system and the control environment in which these electronic machines will operate. We also have concerns about the incremental costs that the City will need to spend for warehousing and transporting the electronic machines. Our estimate of the cost to replace batteries and printers over the life of the machnies is an additional $1.05 million to the cost of the project. The purchase of a public awareness program instead of using its annual mail check to advise voters of the new machines will cost about $3.5 million. A-13-95