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NEW ELECTION COMPUTER SYSTEM ADDS UP TO MORE STAFF

Erie County has a new $1 million computer system for Election Day.

Now, the county Elections Board will add personnel, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, to run it.

The County Legislature last week approved upgrading two jobs and adding 10 data-entry operators. County employees currently in other departments are expected to be transferred.

The jobs and computer system cost about the same that contracting with a private data-collection company used to cost, but the county will be in a position to make a little money by selling its own reports, Democratic Commissioner Laurence A. Adamczyk said.

"It's cheaper to bring this operation in house, and we have control over the data," he said. "The computers themselves are set up talking to each other. We've gone over the software and worked out bugs."

The county must sell the voter lists to persons who request them and will do so at cost, Adamczyk said.

"Right now, a company out of Albany wants to buy names and addresses of all voters in Erie County," Adamczyk said. "We're not sure what the demand will be. A lot will ask for a disk. We would be able to produce any (computer) format."

Job upgrades and new positions require $272,000 for the remaining 8 1/2 months in the fiscal year.

The computer system will cost $1 million through the end of 2002.

The increase in personnel is a change from the trend since 1990, when staff dropped from 72 to 52.

New staffers will file data on the county's 970,000 residents and will make regular changes on the lists of voters.

They will conduct the post-card checks required by state law of more than 560,000 voters, and will make address changes at the rate of more than 10,000 a year.

"Once we're up and running 100 percent, you can walk in the door and we should be able to supply you with the list in five or 10 minutes," he said.

There is enough money in the board's current budget to cover the new or realigned jobs, Adamczyk said.

The Board of Elections does tabulations for the county, cities, towns, boards of education, and any special state or assembly elections.

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