New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and State Senator Jack Martins have fought for years for villages, school districts, fire districts, library districts and other municipalities required to hold elections, to be permitted to use the old lever machines. The forced use of the new optical scan machines would be a financial burden on these municipalities and, in some cases, even be impossible to find. Several times over the past few years the two legislators successfully, though temporarily, fought for the exemption and won. During the last legislative session the exemption was extended for just one more year. And now the question remains: What next?
Will the lack of opportunity to find and use these optical scanner machines, or significant increased if found, force local municipalities to move backwards and use paper ballots? The Nassau County Board of Elections has already made public that they cannot supply the machines without millions of dollars of funding.
At the Oct. 27 Great Neck Village Officials Association meeting, Schimel presented the whole picture to Great Neck’s mayors and district leaders and advised as to how they can speak up and help. On or before Jan. 31, 2015, the state board of elections is required to submit a report to the governor, the speaker of the assembly, the temporary president of the senate and the chairs for the committees on election law of the senate and the assembly concerning the administration and financial implications of elections held by villages, school districts, fire districts, library districts and other municipalities required to hold elections. This report must contain recommendations and guidance for such villages, districts and municipalities concerning their ability to move to the use of voting systems compliant with the current election law. The report must also include an analysis of the cost and fiscal impact to each such municipality regarding the transition to a new voting system that complies with current law.
The law further states that, prior to preparing the report, the State board of elections is required to “solicit, and take into consideration, recommendations from stakeholders.”
Schimel then urged all local officials affected by this election law to write to the state board of elections by Nov. 17 (the deadline for comments selected by the board of elections) and submit their relevant information. Officials should submit any reports, impact statements or other adjunct information via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copies are to be mailed to: 40 North Pearl St., Suite 5, Albany, NY 12207.
“This is the right fight,” Schimel said.
And she added that mayors should “put residents on notice” that state law could well force these burdens on villages and districts, causing financial burdens ease of elections.