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Election officials bracing for primary problems

ELIZABETHTOWN As Essex County prepares to participate in the presidential primaries, county election officials are preparing for trouble. Essex County Republican Commissioner Lewis Sanders and Democratic Commissioner David Mace said a different procedure in the way the voting machines are set up will likely result in problems. Mace said state officials have changed the way election inspectors need to reset the machines between each voter. Theres a lot of new inspectors, and not being used to it, there'll be mistakes, said Mace. The inspectors will be required to reset the machine after each voter by hitting two levers. If the machine is incorrectly set up, voters may find themselves unable to vote in the correct primary, or locked out entirely. People need to be aware of that. If they get into the booth and they wish to vote and find they can't, they're going to have to come out of the booth and vote by emergency ballot, said Mace. Because of this set up, we're making sure we have extra voting ballots in every polling center in the county, Sanders added. In the past, the voting machines required inspectors use one lever after each voter. The last time the two-lever settings were used was in 1988. New York states residents will vote on Feb. 5. The Super Tuesday primaries will take place in more than 20 states. Sanders, whos been Republican Commissioner for 10 years, said presidential primaries traditionally had a good voter turn-out. He believed there would be a better than 50 percent participation among registered voters in Essex County. We'll get a good turn out because all the media coverage, and there's a lot of people interest in it, said Sanders. The presidential primary costs about $40,000 for Essex County to hold. Costs to operate the 28 polling sites including the hiring of 168 election inspectors, 23 custodians and ballot printing. The polling sites will be open from noon-9 p.m. A ballet marking device (BDM) is available at the Essex County board of elections office in Elizabethtown for disabled voters. People who have questions on their polling sites can contact Essex County election officials through www.co.essex.ny.us/elect.asp .

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