01 March, 2006

Courting The Donald For 2008

A month or so ago Republicans were casting about for someone to run for governor, apparently not satisfied with the current crop of candidates. Donald Trump's name was floated, but it never went anywhere. And Trump didn't seem overly interested. Now someone else has higher ambitions for The Donald and his ears may have perked up just a bit.

The New York Sate Independence Party has started a draft-Trump movement for the 2008 presidential race.

The Daily News reported today that Trump was flattered but not particularly interested. Though he did tell the paper "I never rule out anything."


Another New Yorker whose name and the words "presidential race" have sometimes been linked has a more short-range goal. To get out of the hospital. Gov. George Pataki made a surprise appearance today at a press conference where doctors were updating his medical condition. Pataki, who's still recuperating from an appendectomy and an intesitnal blockage, made the predicatable "rumors of my demise..." joke and said he was anxious to get back to work.

The Working Families Party posted a sarcastic "get well" card for Pataki on its Web site today. The WFP reminded Pataki about the great medical coverage the state has provided him and said it hopes Pataki has used the last two weeks in the hospital to come up with a plan to provide better heath care for the 2.1 million New Yorkers who have jobs but no medical coverage.

You could say it's kicking a man when he's down. Or you might see it as a great "hook"to bring up a problem that should be discussed.


Democratic attorney general candidate Mark Green made a series of stops statewide today to officially announce he is running. He too had health care on his mind, saying his number one priority, if elected, would be "to combat health care fraud and corporate abuse." The former New York City consumer affairs commissioner and public advocate released his "Green Book," which outlines his accomplishments on behalf of consumers. If you are a real wonk, you can read the speech by clicking the link.


Whoever you vote for this fall, you won't be doing it on one of those new-fangled computer thingies. Nope! Here in New York, the state with what has been identified as the least effective government in the country, we'll still be voting on those 100-year-old lever machines.

And the Justice Department is filing suit against New York as a result.

The federal government announced today it will file a lawsuit against New York for failure to comply with the Help America Vote Act, which was passed following the voting fiasco in Florida in 2000. At stake is $221 million the state received from the federal government to install a new voting system that addresses federal concerns. According to the Justice Department, New York has failed to meet the three key provisions of the act - adopt a voting system that provides full access to handicapped voters (voters in wheel chairs can't reach the top levers), create a system that provides a verifiable permanent paper record of each vote and provide a uniform, statewide, voter registration database.

The hangup is deciding whether to use touch-screen systems (like ATM machines) or optical scanners, which scan a ballot filled in by hand.

Early this year, when there was still hope for new voting machines in New York, I did a piece on the controversy for another purpose. You can read it below.

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When Election Day comes next fall, voters in Westchester and Rockland counties will be making their choices on new, high-tech voting machines. Maybe.

Local elections officials face a time crunch and heavy lobbying by voting-machine manufacturers and public interest groups as they try to determine which system to put in place. Their choice is being made more difficult by the fact that the state has yet to come up with a list of suitable machines for the counties to choose from.

Spurred by the problems encountered during the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election - you'll recall the hanging and the dimpled chads - Congress appropriated money in 2002 to help states replace antiquated voting systems. New York received some of that money to replace its lever voting machines, but must have new machines ready to go by the September primaries to comply with the new law.

The choice comes down to two types of machines, the touch-screen machines similar to ATM machines, and optical scanners, which electronically scan ballots that are marked by hand. The decision is proving to be not only difficult, but controversial.

Public interest groups, including the New York chapter of the League of Women Voters and the New York Public Interest Research Group, are clamoring for optical scanners, arguing that the scanners are cheaper, easier to implement, more reliable and less prone to tampering. Most importantly, according to Aimee Allaud, Elections/Government Specialist for the League of Women Voters of New York State, the machines leave a paper trail. "The primary reason we are endorsing these machines is that they use a paper-ballot system which provides a recountable means of determining the voter's intent. No other system can tell you what the intent of the voter is."

In addition, said Allaud, touch-screen systems make elections vulnerable to computer malfunction or manipulation. "I have concerns on all fronts, malicious and non-malicious, for mistakes with use of electronic voting machines."

Rockland County Legislator Denise Kronstadt, D-Piermont, was not as concerned about the paper-trail issue, saying the state will require that any voting system adopted by the counties provide a paper printout of each vote.

Kronstadt, who heads a special committee overseeing the machine selection process in the county, said the touch- screen systems provide a wealth of information for post-election evaluation and "are better than they are perceived" by their critics. But, she said she finds the optical-scan systems easier to use. "Voting, because it is so important, should be the simplest thing we do and the simplest way to vote is with an optical scanner."

Cost is another factor. Joy Rosenzweig, president of the Westchester County chapter of the League of Women Voters, said touch-screen computers would have to replace the current lever machines one-for-one, but, she said, fewer scanners would be needed to replace the current machines. In addition, Rosenzweig said the touch-screen systems would require representatives from voting-machine companies to run the election since the systems are complicated to program and the companies are loath to surrender their code to election officials. "So," she said, "you have the vendors running the elections, which is costly and a little scary to me."

Kronstadt said she had no reliable figures yet on how much each system would cost to implement, but agreed with Rosenzweig that the cost difference would be "significant."


At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Vergil said...

Trump for governor? Why not, the state's run with about the same degree of efficiency as Trump's bankrupt casinos. Maybe he could fill the legislature up with rejects from the Apprentice.

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Ron Vallo said...

He actually turned down the governor thing. It's PRESIDENT that this group is trying to draft him for.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous sam said...

What is this group's angle in running Trump? Any serious person knows he has no chance of becoming president. Do they have an agenda to promote and hope to get publicity for by running him? Or are they just there to contribute to his already immense ego?


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