State Should Pick Up Tab If Costs Of Early Voting Go Over Budget

State government didn’t do county Boards of Elections any favor with its rushed implementation of an early voting system in New York state.

In addition to the early costs and the need to quickly create a process to actually perform early voting, Norman P. Green and Brian Abram, county election commissioners, faced a tall order finding three locations in Chautauqua County for early voting that are fair to all county residents and are all compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The state’s insistence on 10 days of early voting, however, essentially ruled out traditional voting places like churches and schools. That’s how Green and Abrams ended up settling on having early voting in the Board of Elections offices in the Hall R. Clothier Building in Mayville; the Chautauqua Mall in Lakewood and the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds, 4-H Building/Ag and Expo Center, 1089 Central Ave., Dunkirk.

The state has provided $200,000 to help pay for equipment, but that isn’t paying the entire cost of the state program. The county Board of Elections is using $11,000 remaining from its Help America Vote Act SHOEBOX grant to help pay for new machines and electronic poll books. Another grant was extended to train poll workers how to administer early voting as well as to help make the Dunkirk fairgrounds building ADA-compliant so that it can be used as a poll site.

Given the short time frame they were given to work with and the constraints they faced, Green and Abram did a good job of finding three locations that will offer fairly equal access to county residents who want to vote early this year. They have also done a good job finding excess grant funding to help keep the local cost down.

If the election commissioners end up going over their budget to administer this state program, however, the state should pick up the tab.