The Telegram
  • Herkimer Co. opposes early voting proposal

  • The Herkimer County Legislature Wednesday evening voted to oppose state legislation that would allow for early voting in New York.

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  • The Herkimer County Legislature Wednesday evening voted to oppose state legislation that would allow for early voting in New York.
    Voting 14-2, with one legislator absent, the legislature adopted a resolution in opposition to the passage of state legislation that would require counties to staff five centralized polling places 14 days before a general election and seven days before a primary.
    Legislators Gary Hartman and Helen Rose cast the no votes.
    “I would be in favor of early voting as long as it does not cost the counties any money,” said Rose, D – Herkimer. “If the state were to require counties to implement early voting, or if it were to allow counties to opt-in to early voting on their own, then the state should fully fund the cost associated with the practice.”
    Legislator Leonard Hendrix, R – Ilion, said if the state were to adopt the legislation it would likely result in another unfunded mandate for counties.
    “I have no faith in the state stepping up and paying for the cost of this,” he said.
    Legislator Patrick Russell, R – Old Forge, said the legislation would result in new costs.
    “The board of elections would be required to follow the same polling place protocols that are observed on Election Day on each of the early voting days,” he said. “There will be substantial costs associated with staffing the early voting locations.”
    Board of Elections Commissioner Kathleen Farber estimated the cost to the county would likely be $50,000 for a primary election and $200,000 for a general election.
    The bills in the state Senate and Assembly are intended to help increase voter turnout.
    “The additional time will not encourage more people to vote,” said Legislator Fred Shaw, R – Little Falls. “All this legislation does is take an inalienable right and make it a convenience. People don’t mind standing in line when a new cell phone comes out, and they shouldn’t mind having to stand in line to vote. The wait isn’t that long.”
    Legislator Bruce Weakley, R – Poland, said the state already has an early voting system.
    “Absentee ballots are a form of early voting,” he said.
    Hartman, D – Herkimer, said the legislation supports the concept.
    “Sending out paper ballots early for anyone that requests them is early voting,” he said. “The county’s resolution opposes all early voting.”
    In other business Wednesday evening, the legislature unanimously voted to authorize a settlement agreement with Bassett Healthcare Network’s At Home Care, which will pay the remaining $150,000 it owes for the county’s certified home health agency and long-term care agency operating certificate. The county initially received a $50,000 deposit from the agency toward the certificate’s $200,000 purchase price.
    Rose said she was amazed At Home Care is willing to pay the remainder of what it owes, considering the certificate is “worthless” due to a change in regulations.
    Page 2 of 2 - “For whatever the reason, they chose to honor this, and I tip my hat to them,” she said.
    The legislature approved a resolution to close its certified home health and long-term care agencies in late 2012. In March 2011, At Home Care purchased the certificate to provide home health and long-term care services, resulting in a $480,000 savings for the county.
    At Home Care Chief Executive Officer Laurie Neander previously said Bassett decided it no longer was worth pursuing the certificate to provide services when the company already had its own, adding many patients had been absorbed into existing programs.
    The county ended its home health and long-care programs in February.
    Contributing: More Content Now