Saratoga County Supervisors Oppose State Plan To Make It Easier To Vote

According to the Gazette newspaper Governor Mario Cuomo is proposing to expand opportunities to register and vote.

From the Gazette: “Cuomo’s proposal would require every county in New York to offer residents access to at least one early voting poll site during the 12 days leading up to Election Day, implement an automatic voter registration system at the DMV and allow New York residents to register and vote on the same day.”

At their regular monthly meeting the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors voted  21 to  2  to oppose Cuomo’s proposal.  The dissenting votes came from Saratoga  Springs Supervisors Tara Gaston  and Matt Veitch.  I have to give Matt Veitch, who is a Republican,  credit for breaking with his fellow Republicans on this vote.  It’s something that rarely happens.  Tara Gaston is one of only two Democrats on the Board.  The only other Democrat on the Board of Supervisors, Thomas Richardson of Mechanicville, voted with the Republican majority.

Here is an email I received from Tara Gaston regarding the vote:


The item voted on regarding early voting was a part of the Board’s 2018 Legislative Agenda, which the Board uses for state/local advocacy as you know. Item #3 of the agenda pushes back against early voting and automatic voter registration. I moved for the item to be removed from the legislative agenda but the motion failed, with only Supervisor Veitch seconding and voting with me. Supervisor Veitch and I then voted against the Agenda as a whole. We were the only two to do so. I hope this helps.

Supervisor Tara N. Gaston

The February 28 edition of the Saratogian quotes the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Ed Kinowsku, as stating that “the county is not against early voting.”  Kinowski goes on to assert that no one “knows exactly yet what the full proposal is and its impact on the county.”  If that is the case, it would seem premature for our county to take a position on the issue either for or against.

The Saratogian article quotes Roger Schiera, the county Republican Commissioner of Elections as characterizing the proposal as an “administrative nightmare” which would increase the county’s vulnerability to people voting at more than one location.  He warned that the electronic polling books required to prevent this fraud would cost “at least $500,000.00”

Interestingly, in the Times Union article on this meeting, Wendy Liberatore reported that Mr. Scheira estimated that the cost to implement all of the the governor’s proposal could be $800,000.00 to $1,000,000.00.  In the Gazette he is quoted as asserting that the electronic polling books alone would cost between $800,000.00 to $1,000,000.00.  According to the Times Union story, Mr. Schiera was unable to provide any analysis supporting his numbers when asked for the information by Saratoga Springs Supervisor Tara Gaston.

I called Bill Fruci who is the Democratic Commissioner of Elections.  He told me that while he has great respect for his colleague,  Mr. Scheira, he is unclear how he arrived at the cost in terms of the required electronic polling books.  Mr. Fruci believes that the county could efficiently implement the three sites and the other requirements at a reasonable cost, especially in light of making voting easier for the people of Saratoga County.

The Saratogian has an article on the controversy and vote as well

Wendy Liberatore’s article was fun as it provided extensive coverage of the people who turned out to oppose the supervisor action.  Here is her piece

As a side bar to this story, I was struck by a statement made by Barbara Thomas at the meeting.  Ms. Thomas has held leadership positions in the League of Women Voters for decades.  Ms. Thomas’ career was with the local chapter of Planned Parenthood consistent with her advocacy on behalf of women’s rights.

In the Gazette article, Ms. Thomas proclaimed that it is important that everyone has the opportunity to take part in elections.

I am reminded that Ms. Thomas, who served on the now defunct Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission, not only advocated that the vote on her group’s proposed charter change be held in May following the Memorial Day weekend holiday but asserted that more people would turn out for this special election than  would if it were held as part of the general election.

It is regrettable that Ms. Thomas did not demonstrate the same commitment to inclusiveness when she campaigned for charter change.

7 thoughts on “Saratoga County Supervisors Oppose State Plan To Make It Easier To Vote”

  1. If they truly wanted to make voting easier, they would schedule it on a Saturday or Sunday when most folks are free from work. Not on a Tuesday (in the middle of the work week). Anything else is sheer nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JC, I cannot agree with your suggestion to change voting day to Saturday or Sunday. Those days are for family, or at the very least, should be for family. Such events as ball games, picnics, entertaining, movies, getaways, etc. Take a look at the poor turnouts for Library votes and school board votes, and it’s evident that single-issue voting is not at the top of voters lists. I think we are stuck with Tuesday for Election Day. At first glance, it appears our Supervisors are doing the correct thing, by waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not only did Ms. Thomas push to have the charter change proposal be decided by a vote on a day that would have a decidedly lower turnout as you mention, JK, but the proposed charter itself that she backed would have limited voter participation by having an unelected city manager in charge of running the city.

    Her charter proposal would also have increased the term of city council members to four years from the current two years, thus decreasing voters’ ability to keep elected officials accountable.

    Oh, and then there was the League of Women Voters forum on the charter proposal where she managed to manipulate League rules so that only charter supporters were on the program.

    The Saratogian quoted Ms. Thomas as saying “We are in favor of maximum participation in our democratic process.” Neither the charter she helped write nor the campaign to get it passed that she engaged in lived up to this quote.

    Another reputation sacrificed on the altar of charter change.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. With today’s technology, it can’t be that hard (or expensive) to set up an early vote system. One great benefit would be the enhancement or our democratic process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alice!

      So, who exactly benefits?
      Who needs early voting?

      Please consider these humble questions:
      1) Would not voting, be important enough to those so inclined, that folks would make a point on just doing it when designated?
      2) If some folks cannot follow accepted, proper procedure, or comply with basic voting protocols, why are we expected to make new exceptions for them?
      3) Has this not been covered already?
      4) What about absentee ballots?
      5) Are we going to start busing the disenfranchised to the polling stations?
      And lastly:
      6) Who exactly ARE these people?

      Some of us have been voting without incident (and regularly) for many, many years.
      So, why is this early voting issue, so important NOW?

      Just wondering.



  5. Perhaps a League of “Informed” Voters would not have been so susceptible to those favors curried by its previous president to take sides in last year’s referendum, instead embracing a mission to inform all eligible voters of the substance of our current Charter and that which was being offered. The 2017 March proposal for voting in 2017 May was strategic to catch the electorate off-guard and had little to do with voter confusion in November. Swept up by their self-centered hubris, the now defunct Charter Review Commission of 2016 did not fulfill their mandate and was a disservice to our city residents, never embracing the option to improve an already successful form of government.


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