Officials OK ballot-transportation plan

FONDA – On Tuesday, Montgomery County supervisors approved a resolution concerning the transportation of ballot results.

The county Board of Elections requested the Board of Supervisors approve the resolution allowing them to engage with various civic and non-for-profit organizations to transport election results back to the Board of Elections office in Fonda on election day, Nov. 5.

The groups hired to transport the results would be raising money for their organization.

Terrance J. Smith, Republican Commissioner for the Board of Elections, said the cost varies between the groups. He would not say how much the groups would be paid for the upcoming general election Nov. 5.

“This is something I feel very strongly for,” Barbara Wheeler, 4th Ward supervisor for the city of Amsterdam, said. “I was an election inspector for three years. These people work 17 hours, they get a little bit of change to do a job that they believe is their civic duty and I feel that it is shameful to not give them the ability to give the results back for this election.”

Terrance J. Smith, Republican Commissioner for the Board of Elections, said this system already was used for the primary elections on Sept. 10. A summer drama club out of the Fort Plain and Canajoharie area and a town of Florida snowmobile club transported the election results back to the office.

Smith said last year, the Board of Elections hired six individuals to transport the results county-wide, but that wasn’t enough people.

He said the board had to find a way to get more people for the job, but hiring individual people wasn’t working. The board decided to contact groups to transport the election results.

Prior to hiring individuals, the board used the Sheriff’s Department to transport the results, but the department couldn’t provide enough people either.

Smith said these organizations are “basically carrying a bag from one spot to the next.”

He said the bag, which contains the election results and a backup memory card of the results, is sealed so no one can tamper with the ballots. There’s also a second memory card that stays in the voting booth, Smith said.

Minden Supervisor Thomas Quackenbush asked if any politically-affiliated groups would be transporting the results, noting that could be a problem.

County Attorney Doug Landon advised the board to make an amendment not allowing organizations with political affiliations to transport the results. Before the resolution was approved, Chairman John Thayer proposed the amendment and the board agreed to it.

All of the supervisors voted in favor of the resolution, except for Quackenbush and Jeffrey Stark, 2nd Ward supervisor for the city of Amsterdam.