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Board of Elections: Inspector errors caused delay on election night

By NICOLE PITT

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Oneida County Board of Elections submitted a report to The Board of Legislators Internal Affairs Committee Tuesday afternoon.

The report was submitted by Kathleen Perez, Democratic Election Commissioner, and Pamela Mandryck, Republican Election Commissioner. It began by saying how things improved from the Primary Election to the General Election. The commissioners say the new electronic voting machines functioned properly, and the ballots were programmed correctly.

Two polling places opened up late on Election Day, the report states in both instances, the poll workers had to wait for the custodial personnel at the polling sites to open up the buildings.

The report says poll worker training is an ongoing process, and there is always room for improvement.

Halfway through the report, the commissioners address the problems on Election Night. The report states that election night runners were supposed to go from polling station to polling station to retrieve the memory cards and return them to the Board of Elections so the results could be posted from each of the 143 voting systems.

The inspectors were to remove the card and hand it over to the runner, who would turn the cards in. In some cases, the inspectors had problems closing down the machines, despite being provided with a step-by-step manual and training. In some cases, the inspectors did not want to wait for the runners to pick up the card, so they put the card in the inspector bags.

The commissioners say a statewide impoundment prevented them from opening the inspector's bags until the next day.

Even after the commissioners could open the bags to retrieve the cards, several of them could not be read because they were removed improperly from the voting machine. Officials then had to physically remove an additional memory card from each voting machine in question, re-close the machines the proper way and then retrieve the results again.

The Board of Elections states that despite these problems, they began posting election results at 11:04 p.m. On Election Night and had 90% of the results online by 12:30p.m. Wednesday. Election officials say they understand the frustration experienced by the candidates, local officials, news media and the general public because of the delay. That is something the Board will attempt to correct for the year ahead.

Both Commissioners recommend that for the next election, the results be called in like they were in the past. This would require the Board to increase it's number of telephones and data entry staff. Calling the results in would be in addition to bringing the card with the electronic data to the Board of Elections.

The Board also recommends better training for the election inspectors. Currently, inspectors take a written exam and undergo hands-on training. Refresher courses may be added to that schedule. The Board of Elections also plans on working closely once again with Mohawk Valley Community College to recruit inspectors and even more poll workers for next year.

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