Purchase of new voting machines planned

Facing a Friday deadline from the state, Fulton County supervisors decided to move forward with plan

Facing a Friday deadline from the state, Fulton County supervisors decided to move forward with plans to buy 30 optical scanner voting machines to be used by the disabled.

The cost is $369,570 including a 5 percent local match of about $18,500. The rest of the funds are coming from grant funds being held by the state Board of Elections per the federal Help America Vote Act.

The Finance Committee voted unanimously to approve the purchase. The full board is expected to ratify the committee’s vote Monday, Chairman Lee Hollenbeck, the Broadalbin supervisor, said.

Hollenbeck said the action was required by a court order.

“In the past, we’ve said ‘don’t do it, what are they going to do?’ Well, we found out with the jail nurse what they’re going to do,” he said.

That was a reference to last year when the Board of Supervisors backed off on hiring an additional nurse at the county jail per a state mandate, only to have the state rescind the county’s certificate to take inmates from other counties. It cost the county tens of thousands of dollars in boarder revenue.

Dexter Risedorph, the county Republican election commissioner, told committee members that he and Linda Coons, the acting Democratic commissioner, are recommending that the county consolidate some polling sites in an effort to save money.

The plan, which trims the number of polling places from 50 to 27, was endorsed by supervisors and will be tried out in the September primary.

Coons said the reduction will make it easier to find poll workers in addition to saving money on new machines.

One drawback to the new machines, Risedorph said, is that they will have to be transported to the Board of Elections before the votes can be tallied.

Poll workers call in results from the old lever machines and the results are posted on a bulletin board at the Board of Elections under the present system.

Results are usually available to the media and the public an hour after the polls close.

“Out in the hinterlands you’re only going to know how many people voted,” he said.

The machines cost $11,500 each and are being purchased from Sequoia Voting Systems.

All the lever voting machines in the county will have to be replaced by 2009.

Categories: Schenectady County

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