Chautauqua Lake and Silver Creek will be joining six other school districts that will be utilizing Chautauqua County Board of Elections' optical scan paper ballot voting for the May 20, 2014 county school district elections.
The Board of Elections continues to provide election services to the school districts of Bemus Point, Cassadaga, Forestville, Jamestown, Panama and Ripley.
"There is no change in administration of elections as the district clerks continue to be the chief officer for the school elections," explained Election Commissioner Brian C. Abram. "We just print the ballots, provide voting machines and technical election expertise for the districts that choose to contract for our voting services."
The rounded 2014 election service cost estimates (before election inspector poll worker personnel costs are added in) are $400, Bemus Point; $300, Cassadaga Valley; $375, Chautauqua Lake; $275, Forestville; $1,300, Jamestown; $325, Panama; $375, Ripley; and Silver Creek, $300.
The school districts not using the Board of Elections' voting machine services were also provided estimates of $375, Brocton; $350, Clymer; $1,400, Dunkirk; $650, Falconer; $875, Fredonia; $500, Frewsburg; $325, Sherman; $825, Southwestern; $400, Pine Valley; $400, Randolph; and $600, Westfield. These school districts continue to use mechanical lever voting machines.
"Our preliminary cost estimates to print optical scan ballots are based on 100 percent of the voters and once we reach any new contract to provide school voting services, we adjust the estimated costs downward based on voter turnout projections provided to us by the schools," added Election Commission Norman P. Green explaining the slightly higher costs estimates for districts not yet contracting for election services with the Board of Elections. "Our offered service pricing includes the voting machine programing, delivery and setup with a fully trained onsite poll site coordinator/technician included as part of our service. Of course, we do the printing of the Election Day paper ballots and absentee ballots, too. Additionally, we provide Spanish language ballots to Jamestown and are offering to provide Spanish language ballots to Dunkirk as part of our service proposal to meet state and federal laws."
Abram added, "Our official position at the Board of Elections is that the use of the optical scan voting machines is up to the school district. We do find that each of the contracting school districts appreciates not having the burden of planning and implementing the elections. The common comment back to us is a question in wonderment as to why they didn?t make the switch to optical scan voting years ago."
New York 18th District Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper of Long Island has introduced legislation to again extend the ability of New York schools to use lever voting machines past its current 2014 sunset provision. It appears that county schools will have another two years at least to decide between optical scan voting and lever voting machine based elections.
"The difference between Chautauqua County and many other county election boards across New York State is that we have successfully navigated the cost hurdle and are providing a seamless and cost effective election service provision to all of our schools. We print all ballots in-house and provide services using our everyday staff, with little seasonal voting help. The schools continue to manage their election no matter if they use lever or optical scan voting," concluded Green.