As the Board’s liaison for the Board of Elections and the County Clerk’s Office, I wish to report on activities taking place as we move toward the primary election in June and the general election in November.
County Clerk Mary Melfi and the team at the Board of Elections are presently forced to operate on two parallel tracks, due to election law changes.
The June 8th Primary will be conducted in person. Voters can vote at their usual voting place. Those who wish to vote by mail can do so by applying to the Board of Elections. The forms are available on the County website.
I am advised that many voters are already voting by mail.
So, the elections units are involved in normal high stress preparations for the Primary.
At the same time, the parallel track is the new requirements for early voting for the general election in the fall and for new electronic registration books to be used for the November 2nd election.
Presently voting in person is anticipated for November. Voters will also have the option of requesting vote by mail ballots.
Additionally, by law there is a new early voting process that must be implemented this year for the November election.
New Voting Machines have to be purchased for early voting, the county’s present machines cannot be used for early voting. Early voting sites have to be identified, and the law says schools cannot be used for early voting locations.
I am advised the county will have at least three locations around the county for the convenience of voters during the early voting window in late October.
The Board of Elections members and the staff have been vetting various vendors who offer electronic registration books – and they are not books like we are all used to, they are electronic tablets that will be used at every polling place in the fall.
They are also vetting the various voting machines with paper trails that are required for early voting. These machines are new, complex and high tech.
Again, remember this involved process is taking place at the same time as they gear up for the primary.
It is in a word hectic. But we have a great deal of confidence in the Clerk and the Board of Elections and their staffs that all that is required will be accomplished.
The best news is that we are back to in person voting this year, while those who wish to vote by mail may do so. Our position last year was that voters deserve a choice on how to cast their ballots. This year we’ll have that choice.
And that is a good thing.