Village Board wants county to run local elections

CHATHAM–The Village Board will hold a public hearing next month to discuss changing local law to transfer the authority run village elections from the village clerk to the county Board of Elections.

At the Thursday, July 11 regular meeting board members also discussed transferring village residents’ water and sewer utility bill accounts to new software.

“The utility conversion is taking longer than we expected,” Village Administrator Barbara Henry told the board. The new software is the same as the new tax bill software, but Village Clerk Kathy Burke and Ms. Henry said the data entry is taking longer for the utility accounts.
When asked by Trustee Lenore Packet whether the software company, BAS of Clifton Park, was responsive when asked for help, Ms. Henry said, “They answer us but it’s not exactly the answer we want.”

Ms. Burke said she asked BAS to transfer the residents’ data from an excel program to the new software and was quoted a high hourly rate for doing the work. Ms. Henry said she would call BAS again about transferring the information and stressed that the company got good reviews from the other municipalities that had worked the software.

As for the elections, Mayor Tom Curran said switching the village elections, held in March, from the control of the village clerk’s office to the Board of Elections could cost between $2,500 and $2,700 a year. But he said that the hours for the clerk and the cost of election officials mean the annual elections already cost the village about $2,000.

Explaining the reason for the switch, the mayor said, “For a village clerk to run an election when her job might be at stake is sort of an odd position for him or her to be in.” Mr. Curran said the county Board of Elections strongly recommends the switch, a change that would remove any doubts about the integrity of election results.

Board member Jay Rippel asked where potential candidates would get their petitions and file their paperwork to run, and whether local people would be hired for to work at the polls.

Mr. Curran said the county would advertise the elections, hire election workers, inspect the machines–which will be the new electronic ballot scanning machines instead of the lever machines the village now uses–mailings and ballot counting among other things.

Ms. Henry said the village would enter into a contract with the county and could continue to have voting take place at the village hall.
Mr. Rippel abstained from voting on a resolution to change the local law, which is subject to a permissive referendum, saying he did not have enough information. The rest of the board voted in favor of the resolution, with the public hearing now set for 7 p.m. Thursday, August 8.

The next village board meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. or, or after the public hearing if it runs over, August 8.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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