Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 18 January 2013 00:00
With the advent of the new scanner voting machines that roll into every polling place during election season, schools and villages are running out of time using the old lever machines.
Since 2010, Mineola and neighboring villages were granted a reprieve from the state through the intervention of Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and Senator Jack Martins, They are allowed to use the old voting units in local elections.
But in 2015, the archaic but reliable lever contraptions will go the way of the dodo bird and the new electronic machines will become a required use. The Mineola School District is attempting to get out ahead of the fray concerning the first use of scanner ballot machines in its polling places.
Mineola may reduce its polling places from four to two; and possibly one. The current polling places are the Jackson Avenue School, Hampton Street School, Meadow Drive School and the American Legion Hall on Willis Avenue. District Superintendent Michael Nagler recommended that Meadow Drive and Jackson Avenue serve as the two district polling places should Mineola consolidate.
If the school board adopts Nagler’s recommendation, Mineola and Garden City Park residents would vote at Jackson Avenue. Albertson, Roslyn Heights and Williston Park residents would trek to Meadow Drive.
The district has not made a decision, according to board of education President William Hornberger. Trustee Artie Barnett suggested the district use one polling place.
“I thought that it would probably be best to go to one [location] while we can still use the lever machines,” Barnett stated. “If that is inadequate because of space, we would still be able to use the levers and the following May, we could increase to two at that point if needed. I’d like to know if one or two could work before we’re mandated to go to the electronic machines.”
If the district went to one location, Mineola Village Hall on Washington Avenue could fill the void. District representatives did not confirm that idea.
“[The village] has a big parking lot there and they are able to handle the village voting and stuff like that,” Vice President Terence Hale said. “There’s still a lot to discuss. We’re still in the investigative stage right now. There will definitely be two for the next [school elections].”
Mineola spent $4,567 on election personnel in 2011 and $4,015 in 2012, with a total election budget of $6,715. The projected 2013 election budget is $7,115.
“I think the less locations we have, the less personnel we need and it’s going to offset a lot of the costs we’re going to be stuck with on mandates,” said Barnett.
Machine rental and transport totaled $1,200 each last year. With the scanner machines, that amount would increase to $1,600.
“I kind of agree with Artie in that lets see if we can handle one site,” said Hale.
Nagler stated in the last few school elections, Mineola had a “tough time” getting polling workers. The hourly rate per Election Day worker may increase, according to Nagler. If Mineola does use the new scanner machines, all employees would need to be retrained.
“It’s the boards decision [to reduce polling places], said Nagler. “You can do either [one or two]. It’s just the logistics of what [the board] decides. We’re an odd-shaped district. We have a lot of people traveling from north that are going to come down, but it’s a matter of convenience and cost. We still want people to vote.”
The sticking point in Hornberger’s assessment is using one location as the centerpiece for thousands of residents attempting to vote.
“From my mind, the concern would be location,” Hornberger said. “Can we handle a couple thousand voters coming out from parking logisitics? You can attempt to go to one and see what happens, but my concern would still be, could one handle it?”