Early voting coming to Fulton County this year

JOHNSTOWN — Registered Fulton County voters will be able to take advantage of early voting, ahead of the Nov. 5 general election, and into 2020 with three elections next year including the presidential election.

Republican Fulton County Board of Elections Commissioner Lee Hollenbeck said Thursday that early voting will occur at the board office, 2714 Route 29, Suite 1, Johnstown, from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3. He said that will be the only site for early voting for 10 days. People can only vote early in their own county of residence.

Hollenbeck said his board will be seeking state funding to help with the cost of various aspects of early voting. He said the board office needs more supplies, training and equipment to deal with the changes.

“It’s going to help us on the cost for reimbursement,” Hollenbeck stated.

Information on the changes can be found on the website — voteearlyny.org.

New York state in January joined most other states in allowing its citizens to cast a ballot before Election Day in a bid to improve its low voter turnout rates. The state Senate and Assembly both approved legislation that was later supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The bill passed over the objections of some Republicans, who questioned the need and the cost and said advance voting could lead to voting fraud. The bill’s sponsor in the state Senate, Democrat Myrie Zellnor of Brooklyn, said early voting will give citizens flexibility, potentially boosting the state’s historically low turnout compared to other states.

Hollenbeck said the Board of Elections is estimating that it may need about $7,000 in overtime for early voting this fall.

The board recently requested authorization from the Fulton County Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee to enter into a $31,642 contract with the state Board of Elections for early voting grant reimbursement. The full board is due to vote Tuesday on the resolution.

Money was appropriated in the state budget to help counties with the cost of early voting. This includes any equipment that may be needed and all personal cost related to early voting.

Hollenbeck said it may cost about $50,000 for next year for early voting involving a county with 32,000 voters.

He said the grant period runs from April 2019 through December 2020.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

By Kerry Minor

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