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State Could Bring Back Old Lever Machines For Mayoral Runoff

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With Anthony Weiner in the mayoral race now, the prospect of a runoff has only increased, and the state legislature is considering bringing back the old lever machines, since the Board of Elections would be unlikely to pull off the runoff with the new, supposedly more modern machines. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

The Board of Elections has been clear. The new, supposedly modern voting machines cannot be tested and counted quickly enough if a runoff election were held two weeks after the primary.

"There will absolutely be a runoff," said J.C. Polanco, a former Board of Elections commissioner. "You don't need to be a fortune teller to know that."

Polanco said there is a simple solution.

"We have 7,000 lever machines sitting at a warehouse in Brooklyn," Polanco said. "We can quickly turn them around and deploy them across the city."

But some say that hearkens back to an era the city needs to leave behind.

"The fact that the disabled community is totally opposed to using the old lever machines. And actually, it's not legal," said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer of Manhattan.

The state Senate has passed a bill moving the potential runoff back another week from September 24 to October 1. It also would allow lever machines.

The assembly bill pushes back the date, but does not allow the old machines to be used, and some say there is a good reason for that.

"These machines came about as a result of the fisaco we had in the 2000 Presidential election in Florida, and the need for us to have a secure voting system where voters can cast a private ballot, allow us to create a paper trail," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union.

Proponents of bringing back the old machines said this would be a one time only event.

"I think it's the only practical solution," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The old machines apparently do not comply with federal regulations for federal elections, but this year, there is no federal election."

A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would not commit to making any changes. He said that at this point, they are having conversations and listening to concerns. A source tells NY1, however, that the deal is done, and the Assembly could act as early as next week to make the changes the Board of Elections is seeking.

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