The following was offered jointly from the offices of New York Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel and Sen. Jack Martins:
Just as they did 2 years ago, and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel stood up to fight for villages, school districts and special districts by passing legislation that ensures the democratic process will go on in local communities without a costly mandate that would ultimately have to be borne by taxpayers.
After hearing the concerns of localities and school districts from across the state, Martins and Schimel worked together to pass legislation (S.6296-A/A.9178-A) that will allow villages, school districts and special districts to as they have in the past for an additional 2 years. Without this legislation, local governments and school districts would be forced to purchase or rent electronic voting machines at an exorbitant cost or use paper ballots in conducting their local elections.
“On behalf of my village, the 64 Nassau County villages and all of the villages in New York State, I would like to thank Senator Martins and Assemblywoman Schimel for sponsoring this critically important legislation. In today’s difficult economic times and with the real property tax cap in effect, this legislation will save taxpayers millions of dollars without adversely affecting anyone’s ability to vote. Our other state legislators and the Governor need to follow the lead of these knowledgeable and concerned legislators in finding other ways to provide further relief from existing State unfunded mandates and to avoid new ones. Also, while 2 years may seem like a long time, we must promptly work on a permanent solution,” said Ralph J. Kreitzman, Mayor of the Village of Great Neck, President of the Nassau County Village Officials Association and member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required states to and in implementing the act, New York chose to use new machines for all elections. This has proven costly to local governments in both time and money.
“The new scanner machines were intended to move us forward, but unfortunately were a huge step back for many,” Martins, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Local Government, said in a statement. “There are school districts, villages, and special districts that simply do not have the access to the scanners. As the law stands, their only alternative would be a paper ballot and in this day and age it is not acceptable that we regress to a paper voting system. The prospect of our school districts and villages having to count thousands of paper ballots is absurd. Rather, the only way to insure the integrity of every person’s vote is to allow for lever machines when scanners are not available. This bill does that.”
School districts and villages have . This legislation provides significant relief to local school districts, villages and special districts from the HAVA mandate that was intended to apply only to federal elections that have higher voter turnout and less annual costs to administer elections using optical scan voting machines.
“At a time when local governments are facing some of their greatest fiscal challenges – and are further constrained by a property tax cap – the last thing they need is to be compelled to spend more taxpayer dollars because of a federal mandate which was never intended to apply to local elections,” said Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors. “By passing this bill, it is clear that Senator Martins and Assemblywoman Schimel understand the difficulties that villages, school districts and special districts have had to contend with since the scanner machines were put to use. The Conference of Mayors commends Senator Martins and Assemblywoman Schimel for their continuous efforts to assist cities and villages across New York State. Their willingness to take the lead on this issue is just another example of their commitment to improving the quality of life in our local communities.”
is the representative of New York's Seventh Senatorial District. He was elected to the State Senate in 2010 as a Republican from Mineola.
Michelle Schimel is the New York State Assembly representative for the 16th Assembly District. She was first elected in a Special Election held on March 27, 2007.