MONTGOMERY COUNTY – The Montgomery County Legislature has approved a two-year deal to hire the Amsterdam High School Marching Band Boosters to transport election results on election days to the County Board of Elections.
The resolution hiring the Amsterdam High School Marching Band Boosters, passed on May 25, calls for paying the booster club at a rate of $25 per polling site for a maximum cost of $600 to transport election results to the County Board of Election office on election days for a two-year period ending on Dec. 31, 2022.
“We put out feelers to groups, and they were the only ones that responded,” said Montgomery County Democratic Election Commissioner Terry Bieniek.
Bieniek said for the last several years the County Board of Elections has contracted with the Amsterdam Area Faith Foundation Youth Ministry, a group associated with St. Mary’s Healthcare. He said in the past the organization of the Amsterdam Mohawks, a collegiate summer baseball team, also helped move the election results.
“We can only contract for this two-years at a time, and then we have to go back to the Legislature, if we want to renew it,” Bieniek said. “Last fall, when they brought the results back the [Amsterdam Area Faith Foundation Youth Ministry] said they probably wouldn’t be doing it again. I guess they were having trouble getting help and stuff. It is kind of a pain in the butt. It’s late at night, and the bags are pretty heavy.”
Bieniek said the organization hired to move the election results must place the memory card used by the election machines into a sealed pouch and transport the pouch and the physical ballots back to the County Board of Elections. The organization must collect the results from 22 of Montgomery County’s 24 polling locations.
“So, it usually takes maybe six to eight people to cover the whole county, if not more,” he said. “We have 24 polling locations in the county, but the town of Mohawk, which is right next door [to the County Board of Elections] brings it over themselves and so does the town of Glen.”
County Executive Matt Ossenfort said Montgomery County needs help transporting the election materials and contracting with the Amsterdam High School Marching Band Boosters enables the county to assist that organization with its fundraising.
“There have been different groups that have done this before. It’s always been a bit of a difficulty for the Board of Elections to secure this service on election night,” he said. “I believe, this will be a mix of students and parents, the Board of Elections is organizing this with them, so I imagine there will be some parental supervision involved.”
Bieniek he’s not certain whether students will be involved in the transportation of the election materials.
“I would imagine, if there are students, they would have to be older. Obviously, they have to drive and we usually recommend there be a couple of people in the vehicle, because it is at night, especially during the fall,” he said. “We’ve tried to be of benefit to the community by giving this job to a charity, or some kind of organization that wants to raise money. It’s maybe two or three hours of work, and you’re making making, maybe $550, which isn’t bad, and that’s for the general election. For the primary election, it will go by how many polling sites there are. We do a voucher system here, and we have them sign it after they complete the task, and then we pay them.”