Voters keen on mail-in ballots
The June 23 primary in Putnam County could be viewed as a test run for the November general election, election officials said last week.
Putnam’s election commissioners, Republican Anthony Scannapieco and Democrat Catherine Croft, who direct the county Board of Elections (BOE), briefed the county Legislature on June 18.
Croft said that, as of that day, the board had mailed out 5,689 absentee ballots. She said she expected there would be thousands of absentee requests before the November vote, as well. By comparison, there were 1,058 applications for absentee ballots before the 2016 presidential primary.
“I guess [the primary] is a good test run, right?” said Legislator Neal Sullivan.
“Yes!” Croft replied.
Along with the Democratic presidential primary, Tuesday’s voting included Republican primary races for county legislators in Kent and Mahopac. There were only 11 polling stations in the county, rather than the usual 22, because the owners of “many of the polling sites would not let us use them” because of the shutdown, Croft said.
Early voting also was available at the Board of Elections in Carmel. Legislator Nancy Montgomery, who represents Philipstown, said she chose that method, which “was very smooth.”
Croft said that Board of Elections staff, working from home, managed to keep up with the demands of the primary, although Scannapieco said “the governor hits us with new changes three days before we have to do it. We’ve been going crazy here.”
BOE health protocols call for poll workers to sanitize the electronic pens used by voters to sign in after each use; provide disposable ballot-marking pens; and give face coverings to any voters who arrive without them, although Croft noted, “we can’t stop somebody from voting if they’re not wearing a mask.” She thanked the volunteer Mask Makers Guild, which donated 200 masks to the BOE.
Changes designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 have cost the Board of Elections about $91,000 so far, but Croft said the expenses should be covered by a $131,000 federal grant.
A letter to the governor
At the same meeting, Montgomery shared a letter she wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 17 urging him to extend a March executive order that suspended or modified laws to facilitate the expansion of hospitals, wider testing, remote government meetings and judicial procedures, a waiver of requirements on school aid and other actions.
“Given the very real possibility of additional COVID waves, New York must be ready to make nimble responses,” she wrote.
Montgomery attempted in May to have the nine-member Legislature make the same points in a resolution. Sullivan instead proposed on June 18 that other legislators write the governor, as well.
I need to commend the Board of Education on its extreme caution and determination to have this primary go off without a glitch.
I was there in Cold Spring from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. My fellow election workers and I were masked and ready for the voters. I assumed that we would have one or two belligerent souls, defiantly ignoring the obvious need for masks. However, those individuals did not appear. Everyone who came into the polling place were masked and ready to do their civic duty. Thank you, Cold Spring! A lot can happen between now and November, but the good news is: We can hold an election during a pandemic. Onward!