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Poll position opposition in Rotterdam

According to the letter, the County Board of Elections would vote on 2009 consolidations in January of next year after receiving input from the town.

Art Brassard, Republican commissioner for the Schenectady County Board of Elections cited multiple reasons why consolidation is necessary.

"We have our first wave of new machines going in, and we have to make sure they fit into the location, while continuing to allow pedestrian traffic flow," said Brassard, who is a Rotterdam resident.

Brassard said the county also has an initiative to end the use of elementary schools as polling places for safety reasons.

"We want to limit activity in the elementary schools," said Brassard.

Brassard also acknowledged that consolidation is a cost-saving measure. He said the county will likely spend between $400,000 and $500,000 on new voting machines, with some of the funding coming from the federal government. He said the addition of new machines in 2009 could cost as much as $1 million.

As for Tommasone's argument that fewer polling places means less accessibility, Brassard did not wholly agree.

"In a city, that's definitely an issue," he said. "But in suburban areas, where people are in all likelihood driving, it's not as much of an issue. But that also means that we have to make sure parking is available at all of our polling places."

Councilman Joe Signore said his chief concern was that with fewer polling places, a technical problem with one of the new electronic machines could spell disaster.

"If a machine goes down, you'll have three districts not able to vote instead of two, and you'll have all kinds of paper ballots to deal with," said Signore.

Brassard said the county has extra machines and an emergency plan in place.

"In some ways, our plan might be quicker than the old emergency plan when lever machines went down," said Brassard.

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