Oneida County Election Criticism Has Drawn a Response for the BOE
There's criticism targeting the Oneida County Board of Elections after Tuesday's vote because of complications at the polls, and the fact that results were posted much later than normal.
During most of the night on Tuesday, after the polls closed at 9 PM, only partial results from early voting were released. On a normal election night, Oneida County has historically been one of the most efficient in the state at getting the numbers up on their rather impressive website. Not so, this year.
Oneida County Board of Elections Commissioners Sarah F. Bormann and Nichole D. Shortell released a statement on Wednesday defending the process.
"To get results to the candidates and public as fast as possible, the Oneida County Board of Elections (OCBOE) like BOEs across the state and country have turned to computerized systems to tabulate results. These systems are approved by the New York State Board of Elections but did not perform as they had in prior elections and in testing performed days before the General Election. We will find out why the systems did not perform and demand answers and solutions from the providers," the release states.
Let's not forget the confusion caused by sticky notes and missing, but then found ballots in the Congressional battle between Rep. Claudia Tenney and Rep. Anthony Brindisi. It wasn't until April that we learned that Tenney would officially win by some 109 votes. Furthermore, the process was such a mess, many votes never ended up getting counted because a Judge ruled it was nearly impossible to determine if they were legal. The 22nd Congressional District was the last in the country to be called.
That was embarrassing and this year would be different.
Oneida County used the new technology and as the commissioners complained, the performance was less than stellar. iPads were used for signatures, a receipt was printed out for each voter, which led to the printing of ballots that were then completed and placed into a scanner. There were reports of ballots not being read properly that were ultimately manually submitted, printers breaking down, and in some cases, signatures and names not showing up properly in the new database.
But, it really wasn't that bad. In fact, the commissioners want voters (and probably those of us in the media who pointed out the abnormalities) to know the count was efficient and accurate and the constitutional process was upheld.
"We would like to be clear," the release from Bormann and Shortell read. "Registered voters in this county were able to cast votes and we were able to tabulate the votes. There is no issue with the integrity of this election. The issue was the ability to upload the data to the public facing pages," they added.
I have to as I agree with them. This was by far better than two years ago and while there were hiccups, some of which were quite annoying for some people, the process and its built-in backups, actually worked very well.
It's obvious that Bormann and Shortell took all of the criticism personally.
"We are disappointed because we take pride in the speedy and accurate uploading of our data on Election Night. That said, our main concern is with the constitutional rights of Oneida County’s voters and that is our highest priority. We want to reiterate that every vote that was cast was counted," the release stated.
The system did work and when it didn't there were safeguards that kept it from moving outside the lines.
I imagine being a commissioner of the Board of Elections must require thick skin so I hope Bormann and Shortell understand that we're all just armchair quarterbacks who feel compelled to complain about anything that isn't working perfectly.
While not everything worked perfectly in this Oneida County election, the back up planning did. We should thank both commissioners and every one of the hundreds of poll workers and volunteers for a job well done.
Fully reported Election Night Results can be found here.
Fully reported Village of Boonville Election Night Results can be found here.