I believe there is one truth about elections that every single New Yorker can stand behind: all eligible voters deserve to cast their vote freely and fairly, with a ballot that is easy to understand and use.
Black and Brown communities are vulnerable to disenfranchisement. Fifty-six years after the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, we are still witnessing nefarious efforts to suppress Black and Brown voters. The NAACP was integrally involved in helping to pass the landmark Voting Rights Act. As president of the NAACP New York Conference, I remain committed to upholding the spirit of the law. We cannot allow what happened in Georgia to happen here in New York. We are at risk of a similar fate of disenfranchising voters if we do not ensure that voters are educated about the new Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). We need to simplify the process and modernize our voting technology to make sure every vote is captured, regardless of background and race, and people can engage in the democratic process, for which activists who came before us fought and died.
That is why today, I am calling on the State Board of Elections to put politics aside and move ahead with approval of machines that provide universal access to the ballot and make the voting process less daunting and more user-friendly for all. I recently had the opportunity to view a voting machine called the ExpressVote XL, and I believe this advanced, secure technology is exactly what New Yorkers need.
Universal voting machines like the ExpressVote XL allow all voters—including voters with a disability or those who speak a language other than English—to make their selections on a high-tech touchscreen. This technology walks voters step-by-step through ranked choice races, preventing them from common errors which could invalidate their ballot. The machine then produces a physical paper record of the voter’s selections to review and approve before casting their vote. I have been casting votes for many years, and from what I observed during the demonstration, I am confident that ExpressVote XL will improve the integrity of our voting system for all voters, while ensuring we count every vote.
New York is far behind other cities and states, such as Philadelphia, Delaware, and New Jersey that have access to this technology. Our State Board of Elections has prevented New York City and every other city and county in the state from using the newer, tested and proven technology provided by the ExpressVote XL.
With a modern paper-based touchscreen voting machine, voters can view their entire ballot at one time, presented in a way that is easy to understand, choosing the language with which they are most comfortable. What is more, the disabilities community also advocates for these universal voting devices to be made available to all voters because they are fully ADA accessible, creating equal access for all.
The very act of exercising our Constitutional right to vote is often frustrating and disastrous. Long lines and complicated ballots deter people from voting. Voting ought to be accessible to every eligible voter. We cannot afford to wait any longer on making the decision to approve ExpressVote XL. The Democratic Primary is just weeks away. While it is too late to make changes that will have a meaningful impact on this primary, we should be looking toward the future. Too much is at stake with thousands of voters going to the polls, a myriad of election races, a complicated ballot, and numerous languages spoken. Using the most advanced technology will help prevent voter confusion, and move New York from bringing up the rear to the front in voting machine modernization.
To the State Board of Elections, I ask you to do what’s right by all New York voters and move quickly to approve the ExpressVote XL, so every vote is counted and every voice can be heard.