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8 Mar, 2008 03:47

Help America Vote!

The hotly contested race to select U.S. presidential candidates is prompting a record voter turnout. But verifying those votes has become a confusing process. In New York state voters continue to use outdated machines and the process has resulted in irreg

New York voting machines have no fancy touch screens or paper record. They are purely mechanical. They've been in use since 1962, despite the fact that in 2002 Congress passed the Help America Vote act, requiring states to replace old machines with new ones offering audit capabilities and accessibility to the disabled.

New York is the only state not to comply with the federal law.

Valerie Vazquez from the city's board of elections says lever machines require poll inspectors to record the total amount of votes by hand. Numbers are passed to police officers, re-written, and then dispersed to the media.

But discrepancies between unofficial results and numbers later certified by the city occur often.

Primary night returns gave senator Obama zero votes in dozens of election districts throughout the city, including Harlem, a predominately black community where posters of the democratic candidate are a storefront staple.

Unofficial results from one voting site showed senator Hillary Clinton beating Obama by 141 to zero, which shocked many Obama supporters.

Later, city officials discovered Obama had beaten Clinton in the Harlem district.

In fact, Obama's incorrect zero tallies were corrected in all fifty locations when once officials certified the election.

New York state senator Bill Perkins says fuzzy maths, even with unofficial counts, causes confusion among voters not just in New York, but throughout the country.

This November disabled voters in New York will be using ballot-marking devices, which create paper records. But in an election leaving no room for errors most of New York's 11 million voters will be casting a ballot for a new president with a very old device.