Voting changes demand quick action by Board of Elections

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB)- As of Monday afternoon, lawmakers in Albany were in the process of passing a series of sweeping changes in the way voters cast their ballots in New York State. The changes will take effect immiediately and include the option for early voting in October, and scheduling local primary day in June instead of September. The Senate passed an early voting bill on Monday evening. 

“Candidates that want to run this year are going to have to move a little quicker,” said Erie County’s Democratic Elections Commissioner. By moving the primary up to the last week of June, candidates will have less time this year  to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot.

They’ll begin in late February and have to turn in their petitions the first week of April, according to Erie County’s Republican Electons Commissioner, Ralph Mohr. “It’s certainly a boom for encumbents because they know they’re running. But those cites and town that believed they had a few months to go fing candidates to oppose encumbents don’t.”

Democratic Erie County Electons Commissioner Jeremy Zellner says combining the earlier primary with the Federal primary will save taxpayers money. “It’s going to be a challenge to move the primaries to this June but we’ll do it.”

One of the other big changes will be early voting starting ten days before election day. It won’t be available at all 480 polling places in Erie County. In fact it may only be a dozen locations in Erie County. Board of Elections offials may also have to consider a system of electronic polling books for the inspectors to make sure those who voted early don’t vote on election day. 

“Many of these things are gonna be tried for the very first time at a live election and it really leaves very littleroom for error,” said Mohr.

Zellner says it will be challenging making these changes but, in the end, it will bring New York State more in line with most otehr states in the nation. “We’ll need help from the community. We need participation from the community. We encourage people to go to our website and apply to Elections Inspectors if they’re interested in this. It’s a paid position.”

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