AUBURN — The requirements of early voting in New York, approved last month by the state Legislature, are likely to have a "considerable impact" on the Cayuga County Board of Elections' work in 2019, according to both commissioners Tuesday.
While the reforms approved by the state cover a number of topics, the changes to early voting and a consolidation of state and federal primary elections will have the most immediate effect on the board, Commissioners Cherl Heary and Katie Lacey told the Cayuga County Legislature's Government Operations Committee.
The primary election for both state, local and federal offices will all be held on June 25, pushing the board's busy season to the forefront — the petitioning process begins Feb. 26.
Early voting requirements, which will not be in effect for the primary, bring with them a number of financial and logistical concerns for the board, both commissioners said.
"We can get it covered, but I think we're going to have trouble," Heary said.
With 10 days of early voting required, counties need to staff at least one early voting site. However, given the shape of Cayuga County, Lacey said there would likely need to be sites in the north and south ends of the county, as well as in Auburn.
Electronic poll books will also be needed to deal with condensing all the voter records normally spread across several districts into a workable form for poll workers. The poll books would allow workers to look up voter registration rather than sifting through, in the case of Auburn, Lacey said, at least 60 voting record books.
According to Lacey, the board has funding leftover from a previous federal grant for voting machines that could be used to pay for the poll books, but that would eat into plans to replace several aging machines.
Although the cost might be manageable for Cayuga County, for other high-population counties like Nassau or Onondaga the cost of implementing the new measures could be exorbitant, Lacey said, making it seem likely the state will provide funding.
"We're kind of expecting money to be upfront," Lacey said.
However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 30-day amendments to his executive budget proposal did not include any funding for early voting.
Lacey said she was glad the reforms were being implemented in 2019, as the elections this year could effectively serve as a trial run to ensure things run smoothly in the 2020 presidential election.