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Cattaraugus County GOP wary of early voting

LITTLE VALLEY –While nearly 40 states have early-voting measures, New York State is not one of them. And members of the Cattaraugus County Legislature wants to keep it that way.

There is talk in Albany of a measure that would call for all counties in the state to set up five sites where voting would take place 14 days prior to a general election and a week before a primary or special election. The voter would not have to vote within their district.

It’s that last part that creates concern for many in the elections field. Logistically, the entire event would cost counties like Cattaraugus a lot of money, according to Republican County Elections Commissioner Sue Fries.

“I would need to have some kind of electronic signature capture of some sort,” she said. “That would be the only way I could make sure someone didn’t vote more than once.”

Her research has shown that could cost the county around $65,000.

Although the policy has yet to be written on how such items would be handled, Fries said she also would have to have all the ballot styles for the entire county available at every polling place. Currently, the county has more than 40 different ballot styles per election. The number of ballots on hand also is undetermined. Fries said the current mandate is that each county has enough ballots for 110 percent of registered voters.

Fries’ counterpart, Democratic Commissioner Kevin C. Burlesson, is not as strongly opposed to the concept.

“New York State was 47th out of 50 states for turnout in the last general election,” he said. “If this is going to increase the number of people voting, I am all for it. Besides, with 32 states already using early voting with little problems, it is the trend of the future.”

If the bill is adopted by the State Legislature, the county has placed a provision in its resolution of opposition to ask for counties to be able to opt out of the system and continue to have voting on one day.

The resolution will go before the full Legislature on Wednesday.