Assembly passes legislation to exempt villages from costly new voting machines
Assemblyman John Ceretto, R,I-Lewiston, recently announced that his co-sponsored legislation to exempt villages in Western New York from costly new voting machine requirements was passed by the Assembly. The measure, which was also passed in the State Senate and now awaits action by the governor, would allow villages throughout the state to use lever voting machines for their elections, an election law exemption only previously granted to school districts.
"Village governments across Western New York are hurting and need relief," said Ceretto. "My bill would help villages save money on training and maintenance by allowing them to use the cost-effective and highly reliable lever-action voting machines during village elections. The unfunded mandate to use the new voting machines from the state would costs villages thousands of dollars every election cycle and is yet another example of Albany's inattention to local needs."
In recent years, the State Legislature enacted several provisions to ensure compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which has resulted in a serious problem for villages. Most villages cannot afford to purchase their own new HAVA-compliant voting devices. This leaves them with three options: If they can afford it, they can rent the use of the new devices from their county board of elections. However, many counties have refused to allow villages to use the new scanner voting machines, forcing villages to hand count ballots - an expensive and time-consuming exercise. The final option would have been to potentially force county board of elections to conduct the village election.
"Local villages, especially large ones like the Village of Depew, should not be forced to hand-count their ballots or be charged for the use of the optical-scanning machines when the reliable lever-action machines are already available as they currently are for school districts," said Ceretto. "This bill provides villages with a low-cost and common-sense approach to ensuring fair village elections."