The Times
  • Steady turnout at Herkimer Co. polling sites

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  • So far, so good.
    That was according to election officials about two-thirds of the way through Election Day on Tuesday as Herkimer County voters decided on a legislator and others decided who would represent them on their council, or both.
    “So far, things are going pretty well,” said Audrey Dunning, Democratic Herkimer County election commissioner, during a telephone interview Tuesday.
    Election results were unavailable at The Times’ deadline Tuesday since polls closed at 9 p.m. Full election coverage will be included in Thursday’s edition.
    “It’s been pretty steady today,” said Stormee Shepardson, a polling site coordinator at Holy Family Parish in Little Falls on Tuesday. “It’s been a pretty good turnout.”
    Incumbent First Ward Alderman Jeffrey Gressler and Third Ward challenger Mike Lonis greeted voters outside of Holy Family Parish Church around noontime. Gressler said he had been there since the polls opened at 6 a.m. Other candidates had also planned to meet there during the day, which is just outside the limits of the polling area.
    Gressler and fellow Democrat David Gevry were competing for two seats in the First Ward along with Republican Jonathan Shaffer. Lonis, a Dark Horse candidate, was challenging incumbent Democrat Mark Ruffing, incumbent Republican Douglas Barnes and Voice of the People candidate Peter DeLuca for the two Third Ward seats.
    Little Falls had several county districts where candidates were unopposed.
    Alene Bosquet, a polling site coordinator at the Ilion Municipal Building, said Tuesday morning turnout had been “better than expected” the first few hours into the polls. She said they even had someone waiting to vote when they first opened at 6 a.m.
    Voters at the municipal building had to make sure they were voting in the right district for their county legislator. A sign directed residents in Districts 4, 5 and 6 to one side of the hall and Districts 8 and 10 to another side of the hall.
    Races in Districts 4, 5 and 6 were all contested, whereas Districts 8 and 10 were uncontested.
    Bosquet said the electronic voting machines now used by the county board of elections would catch if someone was voting in the wrong district if an election inspector did not.
    “It’s like a failsafe,” she said.
    Bill Wiliczka, a polling site coordinator at the Herkimer VFW, said Tuesday morning they also had a good turnout.
    “For a non-election year, the turnout’s been fairly well,” he said, noting the influx of voters usually come “after work,” which is later in the day.
    Wiliczka said turnout was probably higher there Tuesday because they included District 6 voters, which is one of the larger districts in the county, plus they were also polling voters in Districts 3 and 7.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’ve temporarily have had to combine a few [polling sites] because of the flooding,” said Dunning. She said this included Districts 3 and 7 in Herkimer, which would normally have voters go to Mid-Town Apartments, on North Prospect Street.
    “Hopefully, next year, they’ll go back to their usual sites,” she said.
    There were also several propositions on the ballot, including one that would authorize the state legislature to settle 100-year-old disputes between the state and private entities over parcels of land in the town of Long Lake by incorporating other lands into the state’s forest preserve within the Adirondack park as an exchange.
    “I’d rather see it settled,” said Mary Lou Cavanaugh, of Ilion, who said she voted “yes” on the proposition.
    A news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office detailed recent reforms in election night procedures for county board of elections.
    “Today New Yorkers are heading to the polls to exercise one of society’s most fundamental rights, and tonight they should receive those results accurately and in a timely manner,” said Cuomo. “Earlier this year, I signed legislation that has now taken effect to cut through archaic regulations and improve the reporting of results on election night.”
    The legislation improves these procedures by authorizing the use of portable memory devices to gather and transmit unofficial returns to the Board of Elections, among other measures. County Board of Elections are now permitted to use the existing portable memory devices from the electronic voting machine’s optical scanners to store and transfer results information once the polls close.
    The law also improves reporting procedures by enabling the consolidation of returns in poll sites with multiple election districts, according to the news release.
    The release stated county Board of Elections personnel previously used handwritten tallying to gather the unofficial returns, often resulting in delays and factual errors on election night. Poll workers were required to cut up the tabulated results tape that was produced for each district and tally the total number of votes for each race. After being transported, that information was then manually entered into the official databases used by the Associated Press.
    Dunning said the Herkimer County Board of Elections would participate in this new law.
    “It went very smoothly at primary time,” she said. “But this will be our first run through in a general election, so we’re hoping it goes equally as smoothly.”
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