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Mayor On Board As BOE Inspects Lever Machines

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his approval Friday for a plan to bring back old-style voting machines for this year's city elections as the Board of Elections continued inspections of the machines in advance of their potential return. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

The state legislature is maneuvering to bring back old lever voting machines for this year's election.

For about four years, they have been sitting in a warehouse in Brooklyn, row after row preserved with plastic covers.

But the curtain is coming down, and they are powering up.

"We can't physically do it with the scanners," said Frederic Umane of the Board of Elections. "So if somebody else has a better idea, we're certainly willing to listen to it. But so far, we've been unable to come up with any other viable alternative."

The board said it won't have enough time to test the new electronic voting machines between the September 10 primary and a potential runoff.

A runoff occurs when no single candidate in a citywide race receives 40 percent of the vote. And in a crowded field in the mayor's race, a runoff is likely.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is embracing the vintage machines.

"Well, they have to do something, because otherwise, you're not going to have a runoff," he said.

Over the past three months, Board of Elections officials have been inspecting the machines, making sure that they're ready for their comeback. Of the more than 5,000 machines at a Sunset Park facility, they say only 18 are broken.

But there are some kinks. For one, the Assembly and the Senate have not agreed on whether to use them in the November general election.

"We're using the lever machines for the primary and the runoff, and the scanner for the general election," Umane said.

So that means two sets of training for poll workers and potentially confusing voters with two separate machines.

"If you're going to put the machines out there, use them for the primary, a runoff if needed, and the general election this time, and then at least you have a year," Bloomberg said. "Will we solve anything in a year? Let's get serious here. This is Albany."

For now, negotiations are continuing. A final solution is expected next week.

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