MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Some voters will vote twice in separate elections on Aug. 23, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
“It’s not normal procedure,” Republican county board of elections commissioner Terrance Smith said Friday.
Specifically, registered Democrats in the cities of Canajoharie, Minden, Palatine, Root and St. Johnsville will receive two separate ballots when they visit the polls next month.
The rare circumstance will result from the State Legislature’s scheduling of primaries for the House of Representatives and State Senate on August 23. The same day Governor Kathy Hochul called a special election to fill the vacancy in the 19th congressional district created by the resignation of current Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado.
Both elections will have early voting periods from August 13-21.
The late primary is required after redistricting maps approved by state lawmakers were thrown out by New York’s highest court for gerrymandering and redrawn by a court-appointed special master.
All registered Democrats in Montgomery County will be able to vote in next month’s primary for the 21st congressional district. Matt Castelli and Matt Putorti seek the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Representative Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, in November.
Registered voters of any party affiliation in the 19th congressional district in western Montgomery County will also vote in the special election. The candidates are Pat Ryan on the Democratic and Labor Party lines and Marcus Molinaro on the Republican and Conservative lines. Whoever is elected will take office immediately until the term of office expires on December 31.
State officials have sought to simplify matters by scheduling summer primary and special elections on the same day, but Smith said the unusual situation is confusing voters and posing logistical questions for the Board of Elections that are still under development.
“During the primary in June, a lot of people were surprised by the offices on that ballot,” Smith said. “We are still trying to determine if we need to have two poll books.”
The Board of Elections is now trying to spread the word about the unknown circumstances voters will encounter next month, Smith said.
“We’re just trying to get the information out to voters so they might understand a little bit better what’s coming,” Smith said.
Beyond the rare summer elections, Smith said some voters will vote at new polling places in August. The Board of Elections is consolidating some sites due to the reduced number of eligible voters in the summer primary and special elections.
The consolidations include the Barkley Primary School polls which will move to the United Presbyterian Church instead; McNulty Elementary School polls will move to Amsterdam’s Century Club; and Sacred Heart Church polls will move to the RA Papa Town of Mohawk office building.
The unavailability of the Hagaman Volunteer Fire Department during the renovations will also require polling stations to be transferred to the United Methodist Church in Amsterdam.
The availability of poll workers was not a factor in the decision to consolidate polls, according to Smith.
“There is always a concern for the number of poll workers, we are always trying to find enough,” added Smith.
Notices to voters affected by changes to the polling place will be mailed in the coming weeks. Early voting sites will remain unchanged during the summer elections. Normal polling stations are expected to be restored for the November 8 general election.
Anyone wishing to vote in the August primary or special election by mail can apply online at elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html. Ballot requests must be submitted by August 8 to allow time for mailing.
While the Board of Elections works to ensure voters have all the information they need, Smith acknowledged county officials are still unsure whether the state will provide funding to cover additional expenses. linked to the organization of the unscheduled elections in August.
If localities are left to fend for themselves, Smith was unsure if the Board of Elections would have enough funds in its budget to cover the costs or would need to ask the Montgomery County Legislature for additional funding. He estimated that the cost of organizing the August elections could total around $50,000.
“We haven’t addressed that issue,” Smith said.
Voters seeking additional information about the upcoming election can visit the Montgomery County Board of Elections website at co.montgomery.ny.us/web/sites/departments/boe/default.asp or call the office at (518) 853-8180.
Contact Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.
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