St. Lawrence County one of only a few counties outside NYC without primary day voting irregularities
Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:04 pm

St. Lawrence County's Board of Elections was not among the boards in 44 New York counties that reported voting problems on primary day in September.

A report released Thursday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli says that of the 57 counties outside of New York City, 44 reported problems that included things like privacy issues and polls opening late.

The report noted that reports of problems from boards of elections did not in every case match the number of reports in the media of problems. But a chart in the report shows no media reports or board reports of problems in St. Lawrence County during the primary.

If the report is accurate, it would seem that St. Lawrence County’s elections officials were successful in addressing similar problems that had been reported with the first use countywide of the new voting machines in last year’s November elections.

At the time, voters reported, among other things, poll workers who were trying to be helpful making some voters feel crowded and less than private as they voted; and after they had marked their ballots, some said poll workers, again apparently trying to be helpful, took their ballots to put them into the tabulator, allowing the poll worker to see how the voter had marked the ballot.

County elections officials promised after that experience to work with poll workers to make sure voters were helped appropriately but not to make the voters feel their privacy was violated.

DiNapoli’s report recommends county boards of elections ensure poll workers respect voters’ privacy by consistently using privacy screens and sleeves, and consider using privacy curtains; require polling stations to prominently display a large-font sample ballot and provide step-by-step voting instructions; ensure machines are in good working order and that backup machines are available as well as develop contingency plans to ensure all ballots are counted; and provide additional hands-on training to poll workers prior to Election Day.

DiNapoli’s report recommended that state Board of Elections officials review county ballot forms to ensure they are clear and establish a process for collecting problems identified at polling places as well as recording practical solutions. In addition, the report recommended that ballot forms included in state Election Law be updated to reflect the new voting format.

“Voting is a fundamental right and paramount to the democratic process,” DiNapoli said. “No one should worry that their privacy will be compromised while voting or that their vote won’t count because of technical difficulties. The state and county boards of elections must guarantee that every vote counts. There’s nothing more vital to our democracy than ensuring no one is disenfranchised.”

To view the full report, visit http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/swr/2010/countyboardelections....