More than 500 Oswego County elections inspectors recently completed training to prepare for their new responsibilities during the Sept. 9 Primary Election.
“The Help America Vote Act of 2002 impacts every part of the voting process, from voting machines to ballots, from voter registration to poll worker training,” said Oswego County Legislator Jack Beckwith, District 21, Hannibal, chairman of the Legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee. “Over the past few weeks, Election Commissioners Donald Wart and William Scriber trained more than 500 elections inspectors to prepare for their new responsibilities during the Sept. 9 Primary Election and the November General Election.”
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires that all lever voting machines be phased out next year and replaced by electronic machines. The Board of Elections has started that process by purchasing new ballot-marking devices that will be used by disabled voters this year.
Each polling place will have a ballot-marking device equipped with a variety of features so that voters who are deaf, blind or physically disabled can cast their vote in privacy.
The new BMDs were paid for by federal grant funds and are kept in a special storage area at the county Board of Elections at 185 E. Seneca St., Oswego. Each machine will be programmed with local ballots, tested, carefully packed, shipped and then retrieved after the election under strict security and control.
“The Board of Elections has been working with ARISE Inc. to demonstrate the new machines and to make sure that all polling places are accessible and compliant with HAVA,” said Election Commissioner William Scriber. “We in Oswego County have spent over $30,000 in poll site equipment so far.”
The equipment includes signage, wheelchair accessible ramps, and ballot calls with bells for people to ring if they need assistance.
The board is also required to provide expanded annual training for all election inspectors and alternate inspectors. This year the training was held in the newly-acquired County Fire Training School on East Seneca Street, Oswego. Classes took place on weekdays and weekends in order to accommodate all poll workers.
“The HAVA requirements include provisional ballots, statewide computerized voting lists, disability access and poll worker training,” said Election Commissioner Donald Wart. “All of our staff have expanded job responsibilities and we are working to ensure that Oswego County remains in compliance. We appreciate the support of the Legislature and County Administrator Phil Church throughout this process.”
The Legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee oversees the County Board of Elections. In addition to Legislator Beckwith, District 21, the committee includes vice chairman Kevin Gardner, District 13 , New Haven; Clayton Brewer, District 24, Fulton; Mary Flett, District 17, Oswego; Linda Lockwood,Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â District 11, Volney; Louella LeClair, District 25, Fulton; andÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â Phil Vasho, District 22, Fulton.
For information on voter registration, polling places, and use of voting machines, visit the Board of Elections Web site at http://oswegocounty.com/boe/index.html or call the board at 349-8350 or 349-8351.