Election officials answer for botched primaries

ELIZABETHTOWN Both commissioners for the Essex County Board of Elections received heavy criticism from several town supervisors at a Sept. 15 Finance Committee meeting for apparent problems during the recent primary election. Town of North Elba Supervisor Robert Politi brought up the issue, desiring an explanation for a Sept. 9 primary he said started over an hour late due to confusion among election custodians. [The Board of Elections] is supposed to be making sure that every election is safe and fair and everybody gets their right to vote and when things like that happen, its something going wrong over there, said St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency. I believe since that board is in our budget, we do have a right to question them and I think we should. Town of Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas also blamed the Board of Elections for not properly informing voters. About 50 people showed up to vote on primary day and we didnt even have a primary, he said, blaming cards sent out by the Board of Elections for misleading people. Other board members indicated similar problems in their own towns. There needs to be communication between the two parties, between those two commissioners over there, and communication with the town supervisors before they start making these decisions that affect our constituents, exclaimed Douglas, because were the ones that take the heat for it! What Ive seen in that office since Ive been here is an absolute embarrassment to this county, added Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston. Unfortunately, its politics at its worst, and that reaffirms why Im an Independent. If I had the means to hire and fire, Id fire both of them. Commissioners Lewis Sanders and David Mace were summoned to the meeting to give an explanation of what went wrong. There was a snafu in Saranac Lake with the delivery of the polling bags from the town clerks office to that poll site, said Mace, explaining that confusion also occurred over a set of voting machine keys he said were misplaced by the town clerk. Mace said that he and Sanders had agreed on a new policy to prevent similar problems in the future. One poll inspector at each polling site would be assigned the responsibility of getting all necessary supplies to the polling sites. I agree with you that the delay in opening the poll site was not a good thing, added Mace. Westport Supervisor Dan Connell noted that several voters came to his town hall only to find that there were no primary elections there, and asked if the cards sent out by the Board of Elections announcing primary day were mandatory. Mace also explained that the cards were mandated by the state and pointed to articles about the elections in the Press-Republican as a possible reason for people being misled. Every year, were required by law to send that to every voter in the county to make sure that every address is correct, that they havent moved out of the county, Sanders explained. At the time the order goes out [for the cards to be printed], which is July 15, we dont even know where the primaries will be, added Mace. Several supervisors expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of communication between the Board of Elections, town offices and the public. The amount of people that are going to vote in the election, I can guarantee you, will be down in the Town of Jay because of peoples frustrations, said Douglas, calling for notices to be mailed to residents notifying them whether or not there was a primary in their town specifically.

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