Schenectady County legislators will vote Sept. 14 to accept state grant funding for the Board of Elections for early voting and technology expenses.
The Board of Elections is expected to receive over $23,000 to pay for any costs associated with early voting this year, which begins Oct. 23. That funding will be used to purchase privacy booths and printing equipment “so that we can serve more voters in a shorter period of time at the early voting locations,” said Amy Hild, the Democratic elections commissioner during the Tuesday meeting of the Committee on Codes, Judiciary and Consumer Affairs.
During the 2020 presidential election 27,035 people participated in early voting in Schenectady county, 33,981 voted on election day, there were 986 affidavits and 13,379 absentee ballots, according to the Board of Elections.
The board will also receive over $154,000 in grant funding for technology innovation and election resource initiatives.
Republican Elections Commissioner Darlene Harris said they haven’t determined what products they will purchase yet and have until 2023 to spend the money.
“We do have a little time to develop what we’re going to purchase,” Harris said.
Legislator Richard Ruzzo, D-Schenectady, asked if the election commissioners would come back before the Legislature to discuss what products they are planning to purchase in the future.
“I’m interested to understand what we’re going to buy,” he said.
Harris said while they have not done that in the past they can do it now.
Hild said right now the board is looking at using the money toward new scanners for people in the office that process voter registration, absentee ballots and affidavit ballots.
The two commissioners also touched on voter security after legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski asked if residents had raised any questions or concerns.
Harris said some residents asked about voter security and following the 2020 elections voter security was a much talked about topic.
Schenectady County has several mechanisms in place to prevent voting issues.
“We’re a bipartisan team,” Harris said about the positions of commissioner. “All of the positions in our office are bipartisan, so there’s always oversight.”
That means there is representation from both major parties present for all tasks, including voter registration.
The voting system is also secure, Hild said.
“The computer that programs elections is not connected to the internet,” she said. “Our voting machines are not connected to the internet.”
Hild said the voting machines are also calibrated before use and then a random sampling of machines is done after elections to ensure accuracy. Those tasks are performed by employees representing both major parties.
“There’s never been a discrepancy that required a higher level audit,” Hild said about the voting machines.
The county also implemented a law that requires a headcount for any race that is within 20 votes or .5%.
If all those measures fail, Hild said the county has paper ballots that can be counted.
Early voting information
Oct. 23, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Oct. 24, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Oct. 25, 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Oct. 26, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Oct. 27, 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Oct. 28, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Oct. 29, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Oct. 30, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Oct. 31, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Early voting polling locations
Hon. Karen B. Johnson Library
Central Branch, 99 Clinton St., Schenectady
South Schenectady Fire Department
6 Old Mariaville Road, Rotterdam.
Glenville Senior Center
32 Worden Road, Glenville
Niskayuna Town Hall
1 Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna
Shenandoah Briere/ [email protected]