Election commissioners attempt to retain staff

ELIZABETHTOWN Essex County Democratic Commissioner David Mace had more unwelcome news for the county board at the Ways and Means Committee meeting on July 30.

Due to the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the county has been working on taking over elections from the town. However, more stringent election requirements are causing headaches for local officials.

Personnel shortages have spurred Mace and Republican Commissioner Lewis Sanders to consider ways to retain staff. A resolution to pay custodians $75 to set up each machine raised questions from the board, since the price is higher than some of the towns have offered in past.

Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said he had a lot of questions about the payment plan for custodians, since some communities had multiple machines to set up.

Mace also requested that several other pay changes be made. He asked for custodians to receive $75 to be on-call during election day, and payment adjustments be made for custodians attending classes and for the chairperson of the board of election. He said the pay was within the Board of Elections budget.

Mace explained the commissioners want to appoint poll coordinators for some of the more contentious races, like this falls Republican primary in Ticonderoga.

A poll coordinator would keep candidates and their supporters from politicking illegally. He added that the position would only be needed in the primaries, since there was no Democratic challengers.

One of the Republican primary is over, that is the election in Ti, said Mace.

Only six Essex County communities will have primaries Willsboro, Moriah, Ticonderoga, North Elba, Schroon Lake and Elizabethtown.

The Ways and Means Committee passed a resolution approving the $75 payment to custodians. The county board planned to amend the declaration at the next full board meeting on Aug. 6 to address other pay issues.

Sanders also announced that the New York State legislature had passed a resolution that allows the county to use the lever voting machines for the 2008 election season. The state has yet to approve an electronic voting machine.

New York State is considered the state furthest behind in HAVA compliance, and the New York State board of elections been sued by the federal government for its lack of HAVA compliance.

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