Press Center


For Immediate Release:


May 22, 2013

Susan Lerner, Common Cause/NY, 212-691-6421,
Ujala Sehgal, AALDEF, 212.966.5932 x.217,
Margi Trapani, CIDNY, 646-442-4154,
Dick Dadey, Citizens Union 917-709-2896,
Barbara Bartoletti, LWVNYS, 518-469-8905,
Kate Doran, LWVNYC, 212-725-3541,
Neal Rosenstein, NYPIRG, 917-575-4317





Good government groups issued this statement today voicing their strenuous opposition to S.4088-B (Golden/No Number Yet in the Assembly), a bill that would authorize the New York City Board of Elections (City Board) to use mechanical lever voting machines in and for any non-federal elections. The bill has passed the Senate and the Assembly is seriously considering returning to lever machines.




Our groups believe this legislation is a simplistic and misguided attempt to address a potential crisis in effectively administering this year's municipal runoff elections. It would establish dangerous precedents that could lead to the disenfranchisement of voters. Bringing back the lever machines is a half-baked solution that seeks to absolve the responsibility of the legislature in creating a crisis borne of their own failure to act. It does not.


The hard truth is administering a runoff election two weeks after the primary is challenging with the new voting machines or the old lever machines. The answer for this year's runoff election at this late stage should be to embrace modernity rather than revert back to the past, and do what needs to be done to make the new machines capable of handling the run-off election.


That means moving forward the run-off election one week to three weeks to allow the City Board more time for administration. It means adjusting ballot testing and certification requirements to expedite administration. It means temporarily suspending for the primary only the City Board-imposed hand recount in the event of a close race in which the margin of victory is .5 percent or 10 votes, whichever is less. Our groups acknowledge the new optical scan voting machines are far from perfect, but they far surpass the lever machines in enabling voters to verify their vote actually counts and ensuring elections accessible to all voters.


S.4008-B puts forth the old Shoup lever voting machines, invented in 1897, as the solution to the challenges in administering the runoff election for citywide offices in New York City just two weeks after the primary election. The only real solutions to the time constraints imposed by the runoff were moving the primary for state and local elections from September to an earlier month or instituting instant runoff voting ("IRV"; also known as ranked choice voting). Unfortunately, despite calls for reform for years, the legislature failed to act in doing either. Moving the primary date or instituting IRV are the only comprehensive solutions to addressing the administrative hurdles imposed by the runoff. Both options also rightfully enable military voters and permanent absentee voters to cast their ballots in the runoff, which they were unable to do in previous runoffs under the lever machines in apparent violation of the state's own laws.


The biggest problem presented by returning to the old lever machines is they fail to uphold the important principle that grew out of the 2001 Bush-Gore election: every voter should be able to verify their votes for candidates by viewing such choices on paper. S.4008-B instead scoffs at this principle enshrined in the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and asks New Yorkers to instead trust the 28,000 moving parts in the lever machines that their votes were cast correctly without an audit. These are the same machines that too often broke down for hours on Election Day, were missing candidate's names on the ballot, and whose parts were near impossible to order in a timely fashion because they are so outdated. This will result in many more emergency ballots being cast that have to be counted after the polls close with delayed results. In 1997 for example, it took 10 days for the City Board to determine that Ruth Messinger had indeed reached the 40 percent threshold to avert a runoff against her Democratic primary opponent Al Sharpton. The scheduled runoff election was just four days away. The bill also raises serious questions as to whether it passes scrutiny under the federal Voting Rights Act. Individual votes of disabled voters at particular poll sites could be identified and lever machines may not be able to accommodate Bengali, a third Asian language recently required under the Voting Rights Act for Queens County. It is also not known whether the City Board would be required to continue to make payments for the millions of dollars it has in current contracts related to the new voting machines, for example with ES&S, the voting machine manufacturer, for printing ballots.


Even if returning to lever machines was a good idea, the bill is fundamentally flawed in that it gives the City Board discretion to use the lever machines in any state or local election, not just the runoff election. Given that federal elections require the use of the new electronic voting machines, this creates a scenario in which the City Board could go back and forth between both systems, confusing the voters and demanding they master two systems when they have struggled to administer even one. The bill also makes no other changes to Election Law that would trigger changes to rules and guidelines that would specify how the City Board would administer elections using the lever machines. Under the legislation, the City Board can effectively do whatever they want: a dangerous proposition given their own management struggles.


Our groups call on the legislature to this year make the changes needed to use the new voting machines while simultaneously moving the primary date or instituting instant runoff voting for future elections as it should have done years ago. We oppose any legislation to return to the past and bring back the old lever machines.



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Common Cause/NY Response to Moreland Dissent on Public Financing - December 3, 2013

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Common Cause/NY Statement on UFT IE Spending - October 2, 2013

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Analysis of New York State Legislators' Personal Financial Interests - September 3, 2013

"Moreland Monday" analysis of soft money housekeeping accounts is ripe for review by Commission - August 19, 2013

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Common Cause/NY Calls on Gov. Cuomo to Veto Lever Machine Legislation - June 13, 2013

CM Gale Brewer & Good Government Groups Rally Against Return of Lever Voting Machines for Run-Off Election - May 31, 2013

Common Cause/NY Report Details Entergy's Lobbying and Public Relations Effort on Indian Point - May 30, 2013


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Common Cause Statement on JCOPE and DA Investigations of Vito Lopez - May 16, 2013

Government Watchdog and Environmental Groups Join Call to Scrap the SGEIS - April 25, 2013

Common Cause/NY Details Cablevision's Political Spending in New York - April 16, 2013

Common Cause/NY Response to Senator Klein's Campaign Finance Reform Proposal - April 12, 2013

Fair Elections for New York, Common Cause, NY LEAD & Brennan Center for Justice Call for New York State to Enact Campaign Finance Reform - April 3, 2013

Common Cause/NY Releases Results of Council and Speaker Candidate Survey - March 21, 2013

Common Cause/NY Unveils Campaign to Put Council Members on the Record re: Rules Reform - March 14, 2013

Common Cause/NY Responds to Daily News Exclusive about Adolfo Carrion & Peter Fine - February 28, 2013

Common Cause/NY and Human Rights Project Call on Speaker Candidates to Reform Council Rules - February 14, 2013

Common Cause/NY Statement on JCOPE Report - February 14, 2013

Common Cause/NY Responds to DOH Commish Letter on Fracking - February 13, 2013

Good Government Groups Commend Speaker Silver for Moving Forward Early Voting Legislation - February 12, 2013

Statement on Best Practices forThe Appointment of Commissioners to the NYC Board of Elections - February 8, 2013

Common Cause Response to the Districting Commission’s Revised Plan for NYC - February 7, 2013

Common Cause/NY Blasts Constitutional Amendment on Redistricting - January 23, 2013

Broad Coalition Urges Schumer to Support Strong Filibuster Reform - January 17, 2013

Good Government Groups Question Use of Message of Necessity - January 15, 2013

Redistricting Coalition Presents Non-Partisan Map to the Nassau Legislature - January 14, 2013

Common Cause/NY Statement on Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address - January 9, 2013

Common Cause/NY Responds to George McDonald's Lawsuit against the NYC Campaign Finance Board - January 8, 2013

Good Govt Groups Defend FOIL in Journal News/Putnam County Dispute - January 8, 2013

Common Cause/NY Statement on AG's Proposed Disclosure Requirements for 501 (c) (4) Organizations - December 12, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement in Response to Districting Commission's Decision to Revise Maps - December 4, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on Vito Lopez and NYC Redistricting Plan  - November 21, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on NYC Proposed Redistricting Maps - November 20, 2012

Common Cause/NY Responds to Carrion Spokesman on NYC Matching Funds - November 14, 2012

Election Day Wrap Up - November 7, 2012

Cuomo's Order Allowing New Yorkers Displaced by Sandy to Vote Anywhere in the State Good News for Voters - November 5, 2012

Groups Say Let Displaced Voters Use Affidavit Ballots - November 5, 2012


Common Cause/NY Launches PollWatchUSA in NYS: Smart Phone Crowd Sourcing Tool for Election Day - November 2, 2012

Common Cause Releases SuperPAC Memo to the Press - October 15, 2012

Women, Good Government Urge JCOPE: Fully Investigate Assembly and Lopez - October 11, 2012

Common Cause/NY today released a report prepared by its summer student interns - September 25, 2012

Gambling Industry Bets Big on NYS, Has Spent $50M on Lobbying and Campaign Contributions Since 2005 - September 19, 2012

Government Watchdog Decries Tiny Text on Ballots in Brooklyn and Manhattan - September 12, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on JCOPE Investigation  - September 7, 2012

Common Cause Applauds NYC Districting Commission for Online Mapping Tool - September 5, 2012

Civic Groups Decry Charges of Misconduct & Favoritism at Board of Elections - August 29, 2012

Common Cause/NY and NOW NYC Announce Joint Complaint to JCOPE - August 29, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on Assembly Member Vito Lopez - August 24, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on Electronic Voter Registration at the DMV - August 16, 2012

Asian American and Latino Groups Gear Up for NYC Redistricting - August 2, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on NYC Board of Elections Decision on Memory Sticks - July 17, 2012

Common Cause/NY Calls DEC/Natural Gas Industry Communications on Hydrofracking "outrageous" - June 29, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on AG Investigation of US Chamber of Commerce - June 28, 2012

Fair Redistricting Groups Lambast Irresponsible Use of Redistricting in Tug of War Between Nassau Lawmakers - June 25, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on the Conclusion of the 2012 Session - June 22, 2012

Common Cause/NY Idea Turned Into Award Winning App at 2 day "Hackathon" - June 11, 2012

Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner Testifies Today Before JCOPE - June 7, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement Disclosure and the Committee to Save New York - May 18, 2012

Common Cause Responds to Espada Guilty Verdict - May 14, 2012

Common Cause/NY Calls on Attorney General to Investigate ALEC Compliance with State Tax and Lobbying Laws - April 26, 2012

Common Cause/NY Files Challenge to 63rd Senate District - April 23, 2012

Common Cause Releases Analysis of Hedge Fund Influence in NYS Politics - April 18, 2012

Common Cause Analysis Reveals over 80% of Donations to Senators Robach and Alesi from Out-of-District - April 12, 2012

Common Cause Analysis Reveals McDonald & Canestrari Took in over 85% of Campaign Cash from Outside Donors - April 10, 2012

Common Cause Analysis Reveals Grisanti & Kennedy Took in over 90% & 75% of Campaign Cash from Outside Donors - April 5, 2012

Common Cause analysis reveals Libous took in 64% of campaign cash from outside donors - April 5, 2012

Common Cause analysis reveals Valesky and DeFrancisco took in over 80% of campaign cash from outside donors. - April 4, 2012

Common Cause Statement on Court Ordered Congressional Redistricting Plan - March 20, 2012

Common Cause Calls Proposed Constitutional Amendment "Unacceptable" - March 12, 2012

Common Cause Statement on Reports of a Constitutional Amendment - March 7, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on Special Master Mann's Proposed Congressional Map - March 6, 2012

Common Cause/NY Urges Court to Reject Incumbency Protection as a Factor in Redistricting - March 5, 2012

Common Cause Statement on Redistricting Court Process - Feb 28, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on Redistricting Next Steps - Feb 24, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on NYS Pension Fund Agreement on Political Spending Disclosures - Feb 23, 2012

Common Cause Statement on a Special Master for Redistricting - Feb 14, 2012

Common Cause/NY Statement on Assembly Bill to Advance a June Primary - Feb 13, 2012

Common Cause Responds to McCarthy Redistricting Rumor - Feb 9, 2012

Coffey testifies at Bronx LATFOR hearing - January 31, 2012

Common Cause Presents Updated Analysis of LATFOR Maps vs. Reform Maps - January 30, 2012

Common Cause Analyzes LATFOR Maps - January 27, 2012

Common Cause Statement on a June Primary - January 27, 2012

Common Cause Initial Reaction to LATFOR Maps  - January 26, 2012

Common Cause Analyzes a Potential 63rd Senate District - January 20, 2012

Common Cause Releases Groundbreaking Report on Hydrofracking Money in New York State Politics - January 10, 2012

Common Cause/NY Responds to Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address - January 4, 2012

NYC Stands Up Against Corporate Personhood - January 4, 2012

McEneny plans to incorporate "good parts" of Common Cause maps into LATFOR plan - December 21, 2011

Common Cause/NY Launches Redistricting Maps on  - December 19, 2011

Common Cause/NY Statement on NYC Council Rezo Opposing the Citizens United Decision  - December 16, 2011

Common Cause/NY Responds to JCOPE Appointments - December 12, 2011

Common Cause/NY Responds to AG/Comptroller Indictment of Huntley Staffer - December 7, 2011

Civic Groups React to Legislative Agreement - December 6, 2011

Common Cause Releases Report Calling for a NYS Poverty Dashboard - December 2, 2011

Common Cause Honors Adelaide Gomer, Leo Hindery Jr., and Bill Samuels at Annual Awards Dinner - November 30, 2011

Common Cause Calls on B'berg to Replace OWS Library - November 17, 2011

National Fuel Wields Undue Influence on Hydrofracking Policy in Western NY and the Southern Tier - November 17, 2011

Panel Discussion on the After-Effects of the Park 51 Controversy - November 15, 2011

Common Cause/NY Stands Up for Voting Rights - November 8, 2011

LATFOR Comes to North Country - November 2, 2011

Common Cause Statement on Independent Contractors - October 31, 2011

Common Cause Calls on CFB to Focus on Organized Money, Not Organized People  - October 27, 2011

Redistricting Commission Comes to Nassau Battleground - October 27, 2011

Statement in Response to 10/25 NYT Investigation of Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz - October 25, 2011

Common Cause Responds to NYPIRG Report on Numerical Equivalency in Redistricting  - October 7, 2011

Redistricting Commission Comes to Suffolk Battleground - October 5, 2011

Common Cause Urges Court to Recognize Prisoners in Prior Residence for Redistricting - October 4, 2011

Common Cause/NY Supports Passage of Proposed Int. 624-A - October 4, 2011

What's Next for NY9: Redistricting - Sept 14, 2011

New York's Political All Stars Align to Offer Free Candidate College - September 12, 2011

Broad Alliance of New York Area Groups Highlights Diversity on 9/11 Anniversary with Online Virtual Vigil - September 10, 2011

1,000 Expected at Concert and Vigil to Commemorate September 11th Anniversary, Celebrate New York's Diversity - September 8, 2011

Demographic Change More Important than Prison Population - Sept 7, 2011

Redistricting Commission Comes to the Bronx - Sept 7, 2011

Redistricting Commission Comes to Queens Battleground - Sept 6, 2011

Refuting Post-9/11 Stereotypes to be Focus of Panel Discussion Commemorating 10th Anniversary of Attacks  - Sept 6, 2011

Tell Gov. Cuomo & NY's Environmental Agency: 60 days is NOT enough!  - Sept 6, 2011

NY Neighbors for American Values Calls on Mayor to Oversee NYPD Covert Surveillance Program  - August 31, 2011

Non-Partisan Coalition of 130 Organizations Holds 2nd Annual Vigil, First Panel Discussion on Post-911 Unity - August 26, 2011

New York Neighbors for American Values Denounces Congressional Candidate's Messaging Against Islamic Center - August 24, 2011

Common Cause/NY asks Gov. Cuomo & DEC for 180-Day Comment Period & Public Hearings for Fracking Guidelines - August 15, 2011

NY Neighbors for American Values Launches Online Calendar of Events Commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 - August 4, 2011

Common Cause/NY Announces New Blog: “Mapping Democracy” - July 18, 2011

Common Cause/NY Calls for Normal Election Process, Not Special Elections - June 29, 2011

Supreme Court’s McComish decision - June 27, 2011


Common Cause/NY Releases Report: Lifting the Veil - June 9, 2011

Remember why we have pensions - June 7, 2011

Expanded Comment on New State Ethics Bill by Susan Lerner - June 3, 2011

Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner on Collaboration - May 23, 2011

Civil Rights Organizations File Motion to Defend Law Ending Prison-Based Gerrymandering - May 17, 2011

IRS Addresses Partisan Political Misuse of 501(c)4 Status - May 13, 2011

Common Causers Support Balanced Approach to Budgeting - May 11, 2011

New York Campaign Contributions from Big Banks & Real Estate Developers Hit New Highs in 2010 - May 11, 2011

Diverse Groups Plan Day of Theatrics to Highlight Broken Tax System - April 18, 2011

Common Cause/NY Releases Report Reflecting Large Infusion of Money to Influence Policy Decisions on Hydrofracking - April 8, 2011

NY Neighbors Responds to State Senate Homeland Security Committee Hearing - April 7, 2011

Senate Republicans Continue Shamelessly Politicized Approach to Redistricting - April 6, 2011

Common Cause/NY Decries State Capitol Lock-Out - March 30, 2011

Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner issued the following statement regarding the budget process being concluded in Albany - March 30, 2011

With New Census Data, The Redistricting Train is Leaving the Station - March 24, 2011

Organized People, Not Organized Money - March 15, 2011

Momentum Building for Voter Owned Elections - February 28, 2011

Court of Appeals to Hear Election Recount Arguments - December 20, 2010

Voters, Not Machines, Should Elect Candidates - December 16, 2010

Common Cause New York Hosts 40th Anniversary Awards Dinner - November 30, 2010

Statement on Senate Rules Changes: New Rules a Solid Improvement - July 16, 2009

Good Government Groups Call on State Senators to make Good on Their Promises of Reform - July 15, 2009

Common Cause and Serrano See Advances in Stimulus Accountability  - July 10, 2009

Common Cause/NY Applauds Appointment of Ravitch as Lieutenant Governor - July 8, 2009

Citizens Union and Common Cause/NY Announce Support of Legal Experts Regarding Power of Gov. paterson to Appoint Lt. Governor - July 8, 2009

Assemblyman Gianaris, Citizens Union, Common Cause/NY Contend Current State Law Allows Governor Paterson to Appoint Lt. Governor - July 6, 2009

Reform Coalition Offers Blueprint to End Senate Stalemate - June 29, 2009

Legislators Propose Nationally Ground-Breaking Performance Standards for New York's Stimulus Investments - June 17, 2009