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Albany County questions cost of HAVA

"We are finalizing the numbers that will be sent to the municipalities in the next few days. The numbers we are finalizing are based on actual costs. This is a bill for the 2006 elections," said John Rodat, commissioner of management and budget for Albany County.

November's general election has exposed some cracks in the current infrastructure. Colonie's official election results are tied up in the courts pending a challenge by GOP candidates due to wrongly formatted lever machines. The machines only allowed voters to vote along party lines, closing out any possibility of voting outside party affiliation on a combination of the three Republican and Democrat contenders for town board.

Numbers were also skewed between Colonie and unofficial county numbers. In the uncontested Colonie Town Justice race, Colonie's numbers showed Peter G. Crummey received 12,889; the county transposed the votes at 21,188.

Commissioners fixed the problem Thursday, Nov. 30.

As the county waits for the state to approve the voting machines that will be used throughout New York, the election commissioners and Colonie Town Clerk Elizabeth Del Torto are asking why the old machines should even be replaced.

The biggest problem with voting has always been human error, said John Graziano, county Republican commissioner. And no electronic machine mandated by HAVA will remove that.

"It ran fine all those years," Del Torto said.

This year's blunder in Colonie was an oversight, and by the time it had been noticed the morning of Election Day, polls had already been open four hours, she said. It was human error.

"I think the old machines work just fine. This election was not the fault of the machine. It did what it was told to do," said Del Torto.

She admitted that the prospects of a digitized machine that could cut in half the typical 15-hour work day that is Election Day sounded nice. But at what cost?

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