MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Some voters will cast two ballots in separate elections on Aug. 23, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
“That is not normal procedure,” acknowledged Terrance Smith, Republican commissioner for the county Board of Elections, on Friday.
Specifically, registered Democrats in the towns of Canajoharie, Minden, Palatine, Root and St. Johnsville will receive two separate ballots when they visit the polls next month.
The uncommon circumstance will result from the scheduling by the state Legislature of primaries for the House of Representatives and state Senate on Aug. 23. The same day that Gov. Kathy Hochul has called a special election to fill the vacancy in the 19th Congressional District created by the resignation of now Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado.
Both elections will have early voting periods from Aug. 13 through 21.
The late primary is required after redistricting maps approved by state lawmakers were tossed out by New York’s highest court over gerrymandering and redrawn by a court-appointed special master.
All registered Democrats across Montgomery County will be eligible to vote in next month’s primary for the 21st Congressional District. Matt Castelli and Matt Putorti are seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, in November.
Registered voters of any party affiliation within the 19th Congressional District in western Montgomery County will also cast ballots in the special election. Candidates are Pat Ryan on the Democratic and Working Families party lines and Marcus Molinaro on the Republican and Conservative lines. Whoever is elected will immediately assume office until the term expires on Dec. 31.
State officials sought to simplify matters by scheduling the summer primary and special congressional election on the same day, but Smith said the unusual situation is causing confusion for voters and logistical questions for the Board of Elections that are still being worked out.
“During the primary in June, a lot of people were surprised as to the offices on that ballot,” Smith said. “We’re still trying to figure out if we need to have two poll books.”
The Board of Elections is trying to spread the word now about the unfamiliar circumstances voters will encounter next month, Smith said.
“We’re just trying to get the information out to the voters so maybe they’re a little more understanding of what’s coming,” Smith said.
Beyond the rare summer elections, Smith said some voters will cast ballots at new polling sites in August. The Board of Elections is consolidating some sites due to the reduced numbers of eligible voters during the summer primary and special election.
Consolidations include Barkley Elementary School polls will instead shift to United Presbyterian Church; McNulty Elementary School polls will shift to the Century Club of Amsterdam; and Sacred Heart Church polls will shift to the R. A. Papa Town of Mohawk Office Building.
The unavailability of the Hagaman Volunteer Fire Department during renovations will also require that polls to be shifted to the Amsterdam United Methodist Church.
The availability of election workers was not a factor in the decision to consolidate polling sites, according to Smith.
“There is always a concern for the number of poll workers, we’re always trying to find enough,” Smith added.
Notices to voters impacted by the poll site changes will be mailed in the coming weeks. Early voting sites will remain unchanged during the summer elections. Normal polling sites are expected to be reestablished for the General Election on Nov. 8.
Anyone seeking to vote in the August primary or special election by absentee ballot can apply online at elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html. Ballots requests must be submitted by Aug. 8 to provide time for mailing.
While the Board of Elections is busy ensuring voters have all the information they need, Smith acknowledged county officials are still in the dark about whether the state will provide funding to support the extra expense of running the unanticipated elections in August.
If localities are left to their own devices, Smith was unsure if the Board of Elections would have sufficient funds in its budget to cover costs or would need to ask the Montgomery County Legislature for extra funding. He estimated the cost of running the August elections could total around $50,000.
“We haven’t addressed that,” Smith said.
Voters seeking additional information about the upcoming election can visit the Montgomery County Board of Elections website at co.montgomery.ny.us/web/sites/departments/boe/default.asp or call the office at (518) 853-8180.
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.