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All school districts in county except Dunkirk to use optical scan voting in May elections

February 25, 2016
Westfield Republican

MAYVILLE-Eight Chautauqua County based school districts and one Cattaraugus County based school district are moving forward with optical scan paper ballot- based voting for the May 17 school board and budget elections this year, announced Chautauqua County Board of Elections Commissioners Norman P. Green and Brian C. Abram.

"All county school districts, except Dunkirk, have formally or informally notified us of their decision to switch to paper ballot optical scan voting and will join ten other schools already serviced by the Board of Elections," said Election Commissioners and Norman Green and Brian Abram.

Brocton, Clymer, Falconer, Fredonia, Frewsburg, Randolph, Southwestern and Westfield Central School districts have each indicated they will be using Board of Elections' voting machines and election ballot printing services. They will be joining the Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown, Sherman, Silver Creek, Forestville, Ripley, Pine Valley, Panama, Bemus Point and Cassadaga Valley school systems that already use Board of Elections' voting services.

"Randolph Central School in Cattaraugus County also expressed an interest in our lower cost election services that we provide," said Green and Abram. "We determined that since the Randolph School District extends into Chautauqua County, we should also the offer our lower cost voting services. The reason we are able to offer election services for less cost than our neighboring Cattaraugus County Board of Elections is due to our in-house ballot printing operation originally paid for with federal Help America Vote Act dollars. Most counties in New York State use outside commercial printing for their ballot needs at more than double Chautauqua County's in-house printing cost."

The commissioners added, "Eleven of 15 county villages are now conducting elections in November and four villages continue with March elections. The Board of Elections will provide optical scanners for Brocton and Westfield village elections on March 15. The villages of Cassadaga and Sinclairville will also be hosting village elections that day with the village clerk as the Chief Election Officer hand counting paper ballots."

Voters in New York State have all been balloting since 2010 via the optical scan paper ballot system for elections conducted by county Boards of Elections. The State Legislature had been allowing schools and villages the option during that period to continue to use the old mechanical lever voting machines until Dec. 31, 2015. According to the New York State Board of Elections, the State Legislature will not be providing extenders allowing for the mechanical lever voting machines for schools and villages and they will now be required to use the optical scan voting for ballot tabulation or will need to hand count paper ballots going forward.

Erie II BOCES recently held an information session for interested district clerks to familiarize them will the optical scan voting system. Both schools that currently use the county's optical scan ballot counting system and districts looking to contract with the County Board of Elections were in attendance at the presentation.



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