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High Cost of Some Primaries

So few voters voted in the Sept. 13 primary in Cortlandt, it raises the question of how many polling stations should be open when the total allowable voters in the primary is very minimal.

During regular elections, and also during primary elections, each election district is manned by at least two election inspectors, has one or more optical scanning machines and often an additional one for handicapped voters, has printed ballots, privacy booths, and election books containing registered voters.  The machines must be programmed for the specific election, transported to the location, installed and checked.  After the election the same machines must be transported back to the County storage building.  Election books must be prepared by the County Board of Elections and distributed to the correct polling place.  During the time of the election – from 6 am to 9 pm – machine repair people are on duty as well to travel to any location with a machine problem.  The elections inspectors are paid $225 each for their days work.  The above is true for all election districts in Westchester County and probably elsewhere around the state.

The Town of Cortlandt has 39 election districts with some 20 unique polling places.  Some election districts are combined with others in the same polling place.  Without knowing the cost of the machines, election book preparation, transportation and programming, we do know that at 20 locations, at least 2 inspectors were paid a total of $450 to preside over the voting.  That is $9,000.  We also know that on September 13, the primaries in Cortlandt produced a total of 8 votes IN TOTAL! 

There were two primaries for the Town Judge position – one on the GRE line and one on the WOR – Green and Working Party lines respectively.  The contest was the same on both lines between the same two candidates.  On each line, only 4 ballots were cast.  According to County Board statistics the 4 votes cast for each party represented 7% of the possible votes cast for that party. (It was coincidental that  4 votes represented 7% for each party.) So both GRE and WOR had 57 registered voters eligible to vote in their respective primaries.

One has to wonder if there shouldn’t be some reform in the election law in these circumstances. While keeping intact the right to challenge in primaries, isn’t it possible that the total number of eligible voters might govern how many election districts are open for casting of votes – perhaps 2 or 3 centrally located sites in the above circumstances.   There might be other solutions as well but, while protecting the rights of candidates and citizens to establish primary lines for the general election, there might also be a reasonable limitation on the number of polling locations based on the number of possible voters from the parties in which primaries are held. I think it is important to keep minor parties in the electoral mix, but the existing primary system seems very costly and open to some improvement.

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john October 03, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Trustee Gallelli, please mind your own business. Village business. It is not your place to comment on town primaries or what they cost especially given what Croton has spent frivolously over just the last few months: $43,000 for a DPW study to cite just one example of many. Residents in the town and town government officials cannot believe the presumptuousness of this article.

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