- 1. What is a poll site voting system (PVS)?
A poll site voting system (PVS) is a portable electronic voting system that uses an optical scanner to read marked paper ballots and tally the results. This system allows for paper ballots to be immediately tabulated at your poll site.
This system also includes a ballot marking device (BMD), which is an electronic device that assists voters in marking a paper ballot on Election Day. It allows all voters, including voters with disabilities, to vote privately and independently at their poll site. The BMD allows voters to access the ballot by seeing it on an adjustable touch screen, and by listening to the ballot through audio headphones. The BMD allows voters to mark the ballot using the touch screen, Braille-embossed keypad, sip & puff device and rocker paddle.
The electronic poll site voting system replaced the existing lever machines in all poll sites throughout the City beginning with the Fall 2010 Elections.
- 2. What poll site voting system was selected by the Board of Elections in the City of New York?
The Commissioners of Elections in the City of New York selected the Elections Systems & Software Inc. (ES&S) DS200 scanner and the AutoMARK ballot marking device as the new poll site voting system to be used in New York City beginning in Fall 2010.
- 3. How did the Board select the DS200 and AutoMARK?
Over several months in 2009, the Board of Elections in the City of New York conducted a thorough evaluation of the two poll site voting systems that were applying for certification by New York State. The Board of Elections in the City of New York evaluated the systems using many important criteria, including the voting process, the voter's experience, accessibility and voter assistive devices, system security, voter privacy and the capabilities and experience of the system vendor. The Board also conducted public demonstrations throughout the City and held public hearings to gather input from voters on the potential voting systems.
After completing this thorough evaluation, public demonstrations and hearings, the Board of Elections in the City of New York waited for State certification of the systems before making a selection.
On December 15, 2009, the New York State Board of Elections certified two poll site voting systems, clearing the way for the Board of Elections in the City of New York to make its selection. The Commissioners carefully considered the results of the evaluation process and public input in making their selection of the ES&S DS200 and AutoMARK.
- 4. Why is the new poll site voting system being used?
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed in October 2002 by Congress. It requires that all States replace their lever machines and implement voting systems that produce a permanent paper record which can be used in a recount. The new poll site voting system is part of compliance with HAVA in the State of New York.
- 5. Will I still be able to use the lever machine to vote at my poll site?
No. The DS200 scanner and the AutoMARK ballot marking device replaced the lever machines at all poll sites in New York City in Fall 2010.
- 6. Do I have to use the new poll site voting system to vote?
Voters will have the following methods of voting available for future Elections:
- All voters voting at their poll site will mark a paper ballot and insert it into the DS200 scanner to cast their votes.
- Voters who would like assistance in marking a paper ballot at the poll site may also use the AutoMARK ballot marking device to mark a ballot.
- Voters currently voting by absentee ballot may continue to do so.
- Voters applying for an absentee ballot for the first time, or as a temporary absentee, must apply by the following dates:
- 7. How do I vote using a paper ballot?
Step 1: Get your Paper ballot.
- Go to your designated poll site, sign in and get your paper ballot from the poll worker.
- A privacy sleeve will be provided to shield your ballot from view after you have marked it.
- Go to the privacy booth.
Step 2: Mark your Paper ballot.
Correctly Marked Oval
- Fill in the ovals below the names of the candidates/proposals of your choice with the pen provided.
- Do not use an "X" or a "√".
- Do not circle the oval or make stray marks on the ballot.
- For a write-in candidate, fill in the appropriate oval and write in the candidate's name.
Step 3: Scan your Paper ballot.
- Take your ballot to the scanner area.
- Select the language of your choice by touching the corresponding button on the screen.
- Do not fold your ballot before inserting it into the scanner.
- Insert your marked ballot into the scanner to cast your vote.
Paper ballot being inserted into DS200 Scanner
- 8. What if I have difficulty seeing or marking the paper ballot?
A magnifying sheet will be provided in the privacy booth. Ballot marking devices (BMDs) are available to assist any voter in marking the ballot by using an adjustable touch screen, audio headphones, Braille keypad, rocker paddle or sip and puff device.
- 9. What if I make a mistake in marking my ballot?
If you make a mistake while marking your ballot, you may return your ballot to the Inspector and you will be given up to two more ballots in order to mark your ballot as you wish. Spoiled ballots are marked "VOID" by the Inspector and are placed in a special envelope with all other void ballots. Votes on void ballots are not counted.
- 10. What if I mark more choices for one contest than I am supposed to?
The scanner will notify you of an overvote and give you the option to cast your ballot "as is" or return your ballot. If you cast your ballot "as is" your vote in that contest will not be counted. If you choose to have your ballot returned to you, see a poll worker to receive a new ballot (up to 3 ballots total).
- 11. What if I insert my ballot upside down or backwards?
The scanner accepts ballots in any direction and reads both sides of the ballot. The scanner will notify you that your vote has been cast successfully. Your vote, along with all other votes on the scanner, will be tallied at the poll site on election night.
- 12. How do I know that my vote has been counted accurately?
When you insert your marked ballot into the DS200 scanner, your ballot is read immediately. The scanner will notify you that your vote has been cast successfully.
Your vote, along with all other votes on the scanner, will be tallied at the poll site on election night.
- 13. Is my vote private?
You will mark your ballot in a privacy booth designed to shield your ballot from view while you are marking it. ADA Accessible privacy booths will also be available at every poll site.
ADA Accessible Privacy Booth
After marking your paper ballot, a privacy sleeve will be available for you to use in taking your ballot to the scanner. The privacy sleeve will ensure that no one can see your marked ballot and will keep it private. Ballots can be inserted into the scanner with the marked side down, which prevents others from viewing your selections.
- 14. Which languages, other than English, will be available to voters using the poll site voting system?
Depending on what is currently required by law in the voter's Election District, the following languages may be available to voters:
- Paper Ballots: Spanish, Chinese and Korean
- Text on Scanner and BMD: Spanish, Chinese and Korean
- Audio on BMD: Spanish, Chinese - Mandarin, Chinese - Cantonese and Korean
- 15. What should I do if I have difficulty while marking my ballot or using the poll site voting system?
The Board will provide trained poll workers to assist you while using the poll site voting system. You can ask a poll worker for assistance at any time while you are at the poll site.
- 16. How can I learn more about the poll site voting system before Election Day?
You can visit a Learning Center at your local Board Office to have a hands-on experience with the electronic voting system. Learning Center schedules are posted on the Board's website.
- 17. Is the poll site voting system accessible for voters with disabilities?
The poll site voting system also includes a ballot marking device (BMD), which is an electronic device that assists voters in marking a paper ballot on Election Day. The BMD does not count votes. The BMD prints a marked paper ballot for voter review and verification. After using the BMD to mark a ballot, the voter inserts the marked ballot into the DS200 scanner to cast their vote. It allows all voters, including voters with disabilities, to vote privately and independently at their poll site.
The BMD allows voters to access the ballot by seeing it on an adjustable touch screen, and by listening to the ballot through audio headphones. The BMD allows voters to mark the ballot using the touch screen, Braille-embossed keypad, sip & puff device and rocker paddle.
- 18. Which BMD is currently in use by the BOE?
The Board chose the AutoMARK as provided by Election Systems & Software (ES&S).
ES&S AutoMARK Ballot Marking Device (BMD)
- 19. Have BMDs been used in New York City before?
At least one AutoMARK ballot marking device was available in every poll site in 2008 and 2009.
- 20. Who can use a BMD?
Any voter may use a BMD to mark a paper ballot.
For the Primary Election, any voter enrolled in a political party conducting a primary may use a BMD to mark a ballot in the poll site where they regularly vote.
For the General Election, any voter registered in the City of New York may use a BMD to mark a ballot in the poll site where they regularly vote.
- 21. How does the BMD work?
The BMD provides two ways for voters to access the ballot:
- By seeing the ballot on the display screen
- By listening to the ballot through audio headphones (for those with visual disabilities).
The BMD provides four ways for voters to mark the ballot. These methods are shown in the pictures below:
- Touch Screen
- Key Pad (Braille-embossed)
- Sip & Puff Device - Intended for those with dexterity disabilities
- Rocker Paddle - Intended for those with dexterity disabilities
Headphone volume is initially set at low, and voters can adjust the volume. The touch screen is adjustable and allows the voter to choose the following:
- Zoom In - This makes the font size larger
- Zoom Out - This brings the font back to normal size
- High Contrast This makes the font white against a black background
ES&S AutoMARK Touchscreen
Key Pad and Audio Controls
Sip and Puff Device
Two-position Rocker Paddle
- 22. How long does it take to vote using a BMD?
- Using Display and Touch Response - 3 minutes or greater (depending on length of ballot)
- Using Audio - 15-45 minutes (depending on length of ballot)
There will be no time limit for voters when using the BMD.
- 23. If I accidentally choose the wrong candidate, can I go back to change it?
The BMD gives you a chance to review your selections and make changes to your selections near the end of the voting process before the BMD prints your ballot. If you review the printed ballot and wish to make changes, you will be given up to two more ballots in order to mark your ballot as you wish. Your selections are not final until you insert your marked ballot into the DS200 scanner and cast your vote.
- 24. How can I be sure that the BMD has accurately captured my selections?
At the end of the process, the BMD will print your marked ballot and may provide an audio replay for your review if the audio headphones are being used. After you mark your ballot using the BMD, you will have an opportunity to review your selections. You may choose to void the ballot and start the process over. Voters have three opportunities to mark their ballot as they wish.
- 25. What should I do if I have difficulty while using a BMD?
The Board will provide trained poll workers to assist you while using the BMD.
- 26. Will the poll sites be fully accessible for disabled voters?
All but three of New York City's 1,369 poll sites are functionally accessible. Door clerks are assigned where needed to open and close the accessible entrance.
The three poll sites which are not functionally accessible are:
- PS 119 - 3829 Avenue K, Brooklyn
- PS 110 - 124 Monitor Street, Brooklyn
- PS 2 - 75-10 21st Avenue, Queens
All voters assigned to the three poll sites which are not functionally accessible will receive a letter stating that disabled voters may request to have their poll site changed to one that is accessible. Disabled voters can request such a poll site change from the Brooklyn Borough Office by calling (718) 797-8800, or from the Queens Borough Office by calling (718) 730-6730. Requests for such a poll site change must be received by BOE at least 14 days prior to the election.
Voters assigned to poll sites which are not functionally accessible may vote at the poll site with assistance (if needed) or may vote by absentee ballot.
- 27. Will there be additional rides/parking available for disabled voters to access poll sites?
The Board will not provide transportation to, or reserved parking at, poll sites. Voters who qualify for transportation assistance may contact Access-A-Ride.