Village Election Bill Passes Both Houses
Due to the efforts of Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and State Senator Jack M. Martins, the Democratic process can go forward on March 15 when residents of villages head to the polls to vote in village elections. The New York State Legislature recently passed legislation (A.3093b/S.3216), sponsored by Assemblywoman Schimel and Senator Martins, that allows village governments to continue to use lever voting machines for elections until December 31, 2012.
When the state election law was written requiring elections to be held using new scan machines, the law didn’t take into account village elections. Although current New York State Law requires the use of electronic voting machines (scanner machines), they are not yet available for many villages. This is extremely problematic due to upcoming village elections, most of which are held in March and June. Here in Nassau County, many villages are holding their elections on March 15th. Without the scanner machines, villages would be forced to use paper ballots, which would cost villages 55 cents for every ballot.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Martins and Assemblywoman Schimel, allows villages to continue to use the lever machines as they have in the past.
“Without changes to current state law, many villages will be forced to conduct their upcoming elections by hand counting paper ballots or by renting machines at an exorbitant cost. This is unacceptable, especially when many villages possess lever voting machines. Senator Martins and I, as well as our colleagues in the State Legislature, realize how critical this legislation is for ensuring the continued efficiency of village elections. I urge the Governor to do the same by signing this bill into law,” said Assemblywoman Schimel.
“At a time when people are struggling, it is our responsibility to alleviate burdens placed on our taxpayers. This legislation will prevent local villages from having to incur the expense of renting scanner machines and having election workers trained on them or purchasing ballots. Voters will continue to use lever machines. People should be able to vote in village elections this March in the manner they are accustomed to without having the cost or burden of using the scanning machines,” said Senator Martins. “As the former mayor of a village, I am sensitive to the issues facing our local governments. We should allow them to use the process they have been using for years until the scanning machines become available.”
Under this measure, villages are granted the same convenience as school districts, which are already authorized to use lever voting machines through 2012.
Peter Baynes, the Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), said, “Thanks to the concerted efforts of Senator Jack Martins and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, villages throughout New York will continue to enjoy the benefits of efficient and affordable elections. Extending to villages the same authority school districts possess to utilize traditional lever-style voting machines makes sense for village voters and taxpayers. NYCOM greatly appreciates the swift response of the Assembly and Senate to this time-sensitive issue.”
The legislation is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.