Sometimes, there's a negative side to higher technology. We're seeing one regarding the use of new voting machines in local counties.
Counties face requirements to obtain ballot-marking devices for the disabled. The local costs associated with the machines prompted Fulton and Montgomery counties to reduce the number of polling sites to save money.
Fulton County Republican Elections Commissioner Dexter J. Risedorph said his county will reduce the number of polling places from 42 to 28 - a drastic cut.
Montgomery County Democratic Commissioner Joan Grainer said her county will reduce the number of sites from 33 to 28.
Reducing polling sites could hurt voter turnout. Local counties have a large elderly population. Some people want to vote at polling sites in their neighborhood. Changing the locations - especially to places that are farther away - could discourage some voters.
Local election officials should monitor the voter turnout this year to see if the reduction in sites has an effect. If they notice a drop, officials should restore polling places.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002, which New York is complying with, requires significant changes to how people cast their votes. New voting machines will give voters with disabilities equal access to the voting process. Updated identification procedures aim to ensure integrity in voting.
These are improvements. New voting machines may be necessary, but an adequate number of polling locations also is important.