QUEENSBURY- Voters in Warren County will now have the opportunity to learn how to operate the new computerized voting machines during upcoming outreach sessions scheduled around the region.
The county Board of Elections will be introducing the new state-certified Dominion Voting System Scanner to the public beginning this Saturday at various locations across the county.
The new voting machines will be in use throughout Warren County beginning with the September primary election.
Instead of pulling mechanical levers behind curtains, voters will be handed ballots, and they'll be blackening in oval circles that are adjacent to their chosen candidates' names.
They will be making such a selection while sitting at a table with a U-shaped piece of cardboard providing some degree of privacy.
Voters will then take their ballot to a central voting machine, push a button and feed the ballot into a slot, when it will either be accepted or rejected, based on the readability of the markings, and the legitimacy of the choices.
"This will be easier than anyone anticipated," county Republican Election Commissioner Mary Beth Casey said Monday as she prepared to train about two dozen election inspectors at the county Municipal Center on operation of the new machines.
The new devices, however, are not easy on the taxpayers' wallets. Although purchase of the 70 ballot scanners and 22 computerized ballot marking devices for the visually impaired cost the county about $900,000 including the software, 95 percent of the sum was refunded by the federal government.
But because of the machines, the county Board of elections' annual budget has now increased about $150,000 from now on. The hiked expenses are primarily because the ballots must be custom-printed for each election, and the federally-required number to be on hand for an election means as many as 126,000 ballots must be prepared and purchased by the county at a cost of 57 cents each, or a total of $71,820 per election.
The additional expenses of temperature-controlled storage, transportation, testing and securing of the machines and conducting newly required audits means that far more will always be spent on voting with the computerized scanners than with the prior lever-operated technology.
Any voter within Warren Co. is invited to attend any of the voter outreach sessions which include machine demonstrations. The ballot marking device voting system, as well as the scanner machines are also available for demonstration purposes at the Board of Election's office every day during business hours.
"This is the first change in voting systems in about 100 years - We want our public to make this transition as smoothly as possible and we feel that education is the best method to accomplish this goal," Casey said.
Voter Outreach Sessions and machine demonstrations:
• Saturday July 10, from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Lake Luzerne Town Hall, 539 Lake Ave., Lake Luzerne.
• Saturday July 17, from 11:30 a.m-2 p.m. at the Lake George Town Hall, Upper Level, at 20 Old Post Road., Lake George.
• Saturday July 24, from 11:30 a.m.-2p.m. at the Warrensburg Town Hall at 3797 Main St. Warrensburg.
• Saturday July 31, from 11:30-2 p.m. at the Wevertown Community Center, 2370 State Route 28 Wevertown, NY ( Town of Johnsburg).
• Saturday Aug. 7 from 11:30 a.m.-2p.m. at the Thurman Town Hall at 311 Athol Rd, Athol.
• Saturday Aug. 21 from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Horicon Community Center, 6604 State Route 8, Brant Lake.
• Saturday Aug. 28 from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Hague Community Center, 9793 Graphite Mt. Rd., Hague.
Dates and times for Glens Falls and Queensbury locations will be announced at a later date.