Ulster County has given Saugerties village officials the go-ahead to use paper ballots in the upcoming village elections. The election is slated for March 15, from noon until 9 p.m. at the village hall, 43 Partition Street. Trustees were concerned about the possible cost now that the state has said lever voting machines can no longer be used.
The village had received state approval to use the now-obsolete machines up until last year, and were told they either had to use the optical scanning machines used in town, city, county, state, and federal elections or get local election board approval to use paper ballots.
Vic Work, co-chair of the county board of elections, explained that it seemed silly to not let the village use paper ballots, with only about 50 of an estimated 2200 registered voters expected to cast ballots. While exact numbers for the cost of an election using the optical scanners for a village have not been worked out, trustees and Work estimate that it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000.
“We’re not here to make a profit, so we only charge what it costs us to do an election,” Work said. It costs about $900 for the county to set up a voting station with an optical scanner.
That sum includes bringing it to the polling place, programming it, and testing it. It’s then up to the town, village or school board to purchase the ballot from a printer. It must be printed on 80-pound paper, with timing marks on the side. The scanner reads the timing marks, which tell it where to look on the ballot for the votes. If the machine detects writing on any other part of the ballot, it’s rejected and when the day is done the poll worker has to count those ballots by hand.
Work said the cost of the ballot, which has to be approved by the village and the board of elections, varies from printer to printer.
The village must also hire voting inspectors, something trustees did at their January 19 meeting. Hired were Marilyn Daley, Lee Quirk, Arlene Discordia, and Suzanne LeBlanc. They will each be paid $125 for the day, adding another $500 to the cost of running an election.
Village clerk Lisa Mayone, who is responsible for putting the election together, said she had not yet contacted a printer to get a cost estimate on the paper ballots, but she did say they would be set up like an absentee ballot.
Work said he would recommend the village use an oddly sized piece of paper of a strange color so the “integrity of the ballot would be protected.” Duplicating it would be difficult if someone was up to no good.
As of now three candidates are running for office in the village. They are the trustee incumbents: Donald Hackett, Vincent Buono and Terry Parisian.
Anyone who would like to run for trustee can pick up a petition at village hall. The last day to file a petition is February 9.