The Schenectady County Board of Elections has successfully printed its own election ballots in house for more than three years, and now it will be adding Oneida County’s ballots to its printing endeavor.
The two upstate counties have teamed up in hopes of cutting printing costs by sharing resources and splitting printing expenses.
Schenectady County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Brian Quail wanted to make it clear, though, that the county Board of Elections is not in the printing business.
“But we are in the election business,” he said. “And these arrangements are set up as an intermunicipal sharing.”
Schenectady Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Art Brassard explained that because of the success of the in-house printing, Schenectady County decided to extend an invitation to surrounding counties interested in using their printer. He said they figured this would not only help another county, but help Schenectady County cut printing costs.
Quail and Brassard reassessed their election ballot printing practices about four years ago and decided it would be cheaper to print in-house than with private companies.
“We looked at the cost for printing,” Brassard said. “Our cost per ballot was probably approaching 70 cents, if not higher.”
After spending more than a year looking for printing machines and consulting other counties in other states on their printing practices, they purchased their first printer in 2010 with money allocated by the Help America Vote Act. Brassard said the new printer has basically paid for itself already. And because ballot costs vary by election and year, it is best to look at costs on a per-ballot basis. Ballots now cost roughly 10 cents per ballot to print in-house.
“It is much cheaper,” Brassard said.
It was costing Oneida County about 50 cents per ballot to print privately. Schenectady offered Oneida 26 cents per ballot, and Oneida County accepted.
“They are saving a lot of money,” he said. “We really wanted to help them. So we are giving them a price that is really beneficial to both counties.”
“We help another county and they help pay some of our costs,” Brassard said. “Ultimately, we are saving taxpayers money. We are certainly not trying to compete with private business. Our goal is just to help boards and save costs.”
Quail said it is a combined county effort.
“We have an asset that we are sharing,” he said. “And in an exchange for that sharing we are sharing the costs equally.”
On Thursday, Schenectady County sent out Oneida County’s ballots for the Sept. 10 primary elections. The ballots were printed and delivered in two days. Quail said that as far as he knows, this is the first joint effort in the state by two counties.
“We are two governments that are cooperating,” he said. “So far, it looks like it is going to be a win-win situation. It seemed to go well.”