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Primary day was fairly flawless

Volumes of complaints about Primary Election Day mismanagement are on the front page of newspapers across the entirety of New York state. We are glad to report that more than 200 county election inspectors and Mayville staff worked and again brought home a successful June 23 Chautauqua County primary election.

That’s not to say we had a perfect day. We never do. Anytime hundreds of workers deal with thousands of paper ballots at 49 different polling locations, mistakes do happen.

Limiting mistakes starts with annual hands on classroom instruction where our two part time bi-partisan trainers Ruth Erickson and Tony Popielarz provide each election inspector the tools to be successful. All election inspectors are trained to treat every voter as a customer, with a goal of ensuring a quickly efficient and positive Election Day experience. The difference between successful training and failure is engaged teacher presentations that encourage questions and dialogue.

Each of the 49 county poll sites that host one to five election districts has an appointed poll site coordinator who receives extra training so as to be able to handle all voter concerns in real time without having to call Mayville on Election Day.

It is our goal to move voters in and out of the poll sites as quickly as possible and this speedy check in and check out process can only be accomplished with poll site coordinators ready to properly make in-the-field decisions. Our success over the less than successful upstate counties is due a decentralized system. Most other counties in the state require a check in with the county election boards by phone before making out of the ordinary voting service decisions.

Six regular full time and long term casual election employees are also sent out of the of the office on Election Day to act as voting machine technicians ensuring that serious ballot jams or machine ballot scanning errors can be handled quickly so as to keep the voter lines moving. The Board of Elections in-the-field employees with backup emergency supplies are titled area directors and are able to assist on all of the most complex questions that might come out of the poll site when servicing the voters.

We are very proud of our poll workers and county staffers who on the front line carry out the tasks we have charged them to complete.

Together we have 70 years of hands on management experience that helps to best serve our customers, the voters of Chautauqua County. Teaming with our staff to contract for and set up poll sites, designing and printing ballots, programing voting machines and training hundreds of one day-a-year poll workers is a complex job. The many failures of election delivery reported again this week in New York state and previously across the USA is proof that election administration requires comprehensive, year-round, well-planned management.

Norman P. Green and Brian C. Abram are Chautauqua County’s Democratic and Republican elections commissioners.

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