Press-Republican

November 28, 2013

Few vote glitches in Essex County

By LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Results were posted quickly, and few glitches plagued the general election in Essex County earlier this month, County Board of Elections commissioners say.

Some members of the County Board of Supervisors praised the Board of Elections at a recent county meeting.

“I was very pleased to see the results posted online quickly, as were our constituents,” Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said. “Many of (the results) were online by 10:30 p.m.”

County lawmakers have in the past criticized the Board of Elections for slow online posting of election results.

Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) said there was one issue of bleed-through of ink on ballots, which were double-sided.

“It happened in North Elba a number of times; I think it’s happening in other towns,” he said.

The ballots were then listed as spoiled or defective, and voters were given replacement ballots.

“Although it can bleed through, it will never bleed through to a spot on the other side where you can (mark a) vote,” Essex County Democratic Election Commissioner Mark Whitney said.

“Some ballots didn’t get read properly, but as far as we can tell, it wasn’t because they bled through.”

‘DON’T LINE UP’

He said ballot listings are designed so that voting boxes on one side don’t line up with any on the other side.

When voters goes to a poll site, a printer runs off a ballot, which they then mark with a Sharpie, put in a security sleeve and take to a voting-machine scanner to be read.

The ballot scan is converted to numerical votes that are saved to a magnetic flash card in the machine.

At the end of the night, the cards are locked in secure bags and transported by law-enforcement officers to Board of Elections offices in Elizabethtown to be read and counted.

The number of unreadable ballots was not higher than usual, Whitney said.

‘SLIPPERY SLOPE’

Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey (D-Minerva) suggested a switch from a regular Sharpie to a fine-tip Sharpie.

She said the regular, coarse-tip marker tended to smear outside the voting boxes printed on ballots.

Scozzafava said some people didn’t vote for the state and local propositions because they didn’t know the ballot had two sides.

Election inspectors are technically not allowed to tell people there are propositions on the back, Whitney said.

“That’s a slippery slope. It’s akin to telling someone, ‘Be sure you vote for this.’

“The front and back of the ballot is posted at the polling site. When they (voters) receive a ballot, we assume they are an informed voter, at that point.”

Some poll workers did tell voters the ballot had two sides, however, which is apparently within the rules.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com