Board of Elections prepares for big night

ELIZABETHTOWN - With primary elections out of the way, officials at the Essex County Board of Elections are in high gear to prepare for the Nov. 2 general elections.

Elections commissioners Derinda Sherman and Robert Pell-DeChame met with the Essex County Board of Supervisors last week and reported relatively positive results from the Sept. 15 primary.

"We had no machine issues," said Sherman. "We had a few hiccups with inspectors and paperwork but all in all, it went off pretty smoothly."

This year's primary was the first election in Essex County to use the new opti-scan computerized voting machines, recently mandated for all elections in New York State.

The machines require voters to mark a paper ballot. The ballots are fed into the machines, which "reads" them and tabulates the votes for each candidate.

Sherman noted concerns regarding the ballots for the upcoming general election, however, which are missing finger-pointer graphics for some local elections to make up for the inclusion of all nine candidates for New York governor.

"We are concerned about voters, what they are going to do and what they are going to see," said Sherman.

Sherman said she and DeChame petitioned the State Board of Elections to modify the ballot before Nov. 2, but some absentee ballots may not be changed in time.

"Military ballots had to go out on Friday [Oct. 1] so we spent the afternoon sending a ballot that we knew was going to be wrong," said Sherman. "It's out of our control. It is a state timing problem with the legislature and the laws that they have not changed."

Once the ballots are corrected, Sherman said, sample copies will be distributed to each town hall so voters can see the ballot before they come to vote. County supervisors requested quicker reporting of election results, noting how results from the primary elections were not fully reported until shortly before midnight.

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