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Counties brace for new voting machines

On July 1, Nassau County wrote a second letter to the court refusing to accept any more systems until the vendor resolved problems with the voting systems.

Several local elected officials have expressed frustration or outright confusion surrounding the pending electronic switch over.

Bethlehem Town Clerk Kathy Newkirk said the local town clerks who are charge of the local polling districts have been largely left in the dark.

"Everything at this point is in such flux," she said. "The voting machines that the town has owned for years are now owned by the county. I do not have any obligations for training [poll workers], it's up to the county now."

In Albany County it is unclear who will pay to store the new electronic machines, which require a more controlled environment then lever machines, and where they will be located.

There are basically three options: currently all the municipalities pay the county for its election based on assessment, which has been reported to be 20 percent higher than the actual costs in some towns; have the town's pay the actual costs of elections; or have the county foot the bill for all election costs.

Bethlehem Supervisor Jack Cunningham said he believes the county should pay for the election costs 100 percent, a contention Albany County Executive Michael Breslin disagrees with, and added the towns are already storing the now county-owned voting machines for free.

"I think whenever you do the switch over it's going to be problematic. There's no easy answer," said Cunningham, a former long-time information technology manager with KeyBank. "But I'm saying the best scenario is that the county pay for the cost of the elections."

Albany County Legislator Richard Mendick, R, C-Selkirk, introduced a bill that the town's pay its own true election costs. Under the current system, he said, the towns like Bethlehem and Colonie pay the county more money than what the election actually cost.

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