Help choose how you will vote in the future
There's one last chance to have your say on how you will vote in the future by visiting a display at Medley Centre Jan. 31.
The Monroe County Board of Elections is setting up a voting-equipment display from noon to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in a vacant storefront on the upper level of Medley Centre, formerly Irondequoit Mall, 285 Medley Centre Parkway, Irondequoit.
The public is encouraged to visit, try new-style voting systems from at last four vendors, then fill out a survey to let the Board of Elections know what you think.
"We want as much feedback from voters as possible to help us decide what system to go with,"," said Douglas French, a deputy elections commissioner.
French explained that a court has ruled that all voting machines with levers, like those used in Monroe County now, must be replaced because they are not handicapped-accessible.
Each of the 62 counties in the state can choose and buy its voting system independently, he said, but must make a decision by the first week of March. The New York State Legislature has decreed the framework for what type of voting equipment will be used, but the State Board of Elections is responsible for certifying equipment that will meet those requirements.
The key requirement is handicapped-accessibility, French said. "We wouldn't be trying to fit this (display) in a week before the presidential primaries if this wasn't so important,"he said.
French said he believes the majority of the systems voters will see at the Jan. 31 display will be optical scan ballots. With the systems, voters are handed a paper ballot and asked to go to a voting station or table to fill them out. He likened using the ballots to filling in the small circles on a lottery ticket or Scholastic Aptitude Test.
Once the ballot is filled out, voters take it to a scanning machine and feed it in to have their votes recorded, French said.
French said the plan is to have one of the new ballot-marking devices in place at each polling site in the county for the fall 2008 elections. The traditional voting machines will also still be used.
All machines are expected to be replaced, across the state, by the 2009 elections, French said. Previous public demonstrations were held at the Dome Center in Henrietta two years ago and at Rochester's Edgerton recreation center a year ago, he added.
French said federal and state funds are available for the new machines through the Help America Vote Act of 2002, but that it isn't yet known what the cost of an all-new system will be for the entire county.
The commissioners said that everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the Jan. 31 event and let the Board of Elections know what they think of each type of voting equipment. Additional comments will be welcome after the event.
If someone knows in advance that they will need assistance completing a survey, they are welcome to bring someone with them to take notes and assist them with their survey. A second option, if you contact the Board of Elections at 753-1560 by Jan. 29 with your name and what time you will be there, the board will provide you with a person to assist you in completing the survey. If people are coming with a group, the board asks that group leader let them know by Jan. 29.
The community's input will be helpful in deciding what type of voting equipment might be deployed in Monroe County for the elections in the fall of 2008, Quinn said.
On Jan. 31, attendees should enter Medley Centre at Entrance 1 on the north side of the mall, where the American flag is flying. The display will be in a storefront down a hallway to the left of the food court inside.
Linda Quinlan can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 350, or at email@example.com.