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Officials ready to use banned voting devices

Chautauqua County's elections commissioners are prepared to "break the law" in this fall's elections. That's because they will be forced to use lever voting machines after Sept. 1, even though those machines have been outlawed by the state.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Norm Green said Monday that he and Republican Elections Commissioner Terry Niebel are at a loss as to how to move forward without approval from the State Legislature.

"Currently, the lever machines that we use here in Chautauqua County and across New York State will become illegal pursuant to state law, as of Sept. 1. That means we can't use them for the primary or general election in a legal sense," Green said. "We would like the State Legislature to change that law."

Green and Niebel sent a letter to the area's state legislators urging them to pass an amendment to the state law banning lever voting machines. The amendment was endorsed in June by elections commissioners statewide at their summer conference.

If the amendment isn't passed by the Legislature, Green said, the county is prepared to use the lever voting machines anyway.

"In Chautauqua, we are prepared to break the law and move ahead. We prefer not to break the law, we prefer if the [amendment] was in place," he said. "But it would be absolute chaos if we were to abandon our voting machines that we have and go to paper ballots."

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