Plattsburgh voters to test new technology for county elections

Published: Oct. 23, 2019 at 3:48 PM EDT
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We are less than two weeks away from county elections in New York, where voters pick new superintendents and county lawmakers. But this year, for the first time ever, New Yorkers can hit the polls before election day, and some will be trying out some new polling place technology.

Currently Government Center in Plattsburgh is the only place in Clinton County set up for early voting. But for those already registered to vote, a new piece of technology is expected to remove the wait times of poll workers sifting through the voter rolls looking for your name.

"This process has taken about 12 to 15 seconds," said Jerry Klaus with the Clinton County Board of Elections.

Clinton County is now the proud owner of electronic Poll Pads. They are essentially a 21st century version of those printed poll books voters have come to know and love over the years. "Tey would flip through this, miss your name, come back, ask you how to spell it again." Klaus said.

The Poll Pads will make their debut this Saturday for the first ever early voting in the state of New York. The upgrade came less than two weeks ago. Local elections officials have worked to brush up on how the Poll Pads work so everything goes as smoothly as possible.

"This is a very simple system to operate. It was not a simple system to set up," said Board of Elections Commissioner Greg Campbell.

So how does it work? Voters walk up to the poll workers and give their last name, first name and address. After signing your name, they check it against records, give you a receipt and you head to get your ballot.

Another worker double checks to mae sure the receipt and the ballot match, and then carry on with normal voting.

Eventually the county will have 61 of these new Poll Pads paid for by two state grants amounting to $93,000. That money covers give years of maintance too.

"The county has paid nothing for this. This is all coming from the grants, I'm keeping it all under the grant cap," Klaus said.

He says it will also save the county money by eliminating some poll workers, reducing the number of ballots printed and the cost of those printed poll books. "Quite the production cost to make there -- that should go away in the future," Klaus said.

Although Government Center is the only place set up now for the new techology, they will be standard equipment at all Clinton County polling sites for April's presidential primary.