New election changes expected to cost Erie County $1M

Feb 4, 2019

Boards of elections across New York State will be going to their county governments fairly soon to get extra cash to pay for elections this year, elections much changed by Albany and with more changes to come.

New York State has long been regarded as a pretty backward state as far as elections are concerned. The new Democratic-controlled state government has been changing that - and more will come if voters approve constitutional amendments in a few years.

The two big changes are early voting and moving up the date for party primaries to June. Early voting is going to cost significant money because there have to be sites in the community, rather than elections board offices.

Erie County Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr said moving up the primary also moves up getting election petitions out.

Credit File photo / WBFO News

"Primary day is the fourth Tuesday in June. It's going to be just as school lets out for many individuals," Mohr said. "The first date to circulate petitions will be Feb. 26 and, fittingly, the first day to file petitions will be on April Fool's Day."

Complicating that is a brand new push in Albany to shrink the number of required valid signatures to get on the ballot, but that might take a while, putting some fog in the process.

"Seventeen-year-old students and individuals in the year that they become 18, that has been extended by a law which comes into effect immediately," Mohr said, "that we can now register individuals when they are 16-years-old and carry on their registration and activate them when they become 18."

Mohr said costs are unclear, although he suspects early voting and the computer capability to do it might cost $1 million - $1 million not in this year's Erie County budget. The state budget doesn't have any extra cash for elections.

The State Association of Counties said implementation of early voting will cost counties outside of New York City $31 million this year.

On the county ballot this year are members of the County Legislature, the County Executive and around 150 other offices.