New Oneida Co. Commissioners explain changes made to prevent NY-22 mistakes from happening again

Battle for the 22nd

UTICA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Tuesday’s primary election is the first under two new elections commissioners in Oneida County, who are tasked with cleaning up the mess left behind by the predecessors who resigned for mistakes made in last November’s election.

When Sarah Bormann lost her job in Anthony Brindisi’s congressional office, the Oneida County Board of Elections had one open: Democratic Commissioner.

Bormann joins Nichole Shortell, the veteran paralegal in the county attorney’s office, who took the job of Republican Commissioner.

Together, they’re a brand new team and want to come across as united.

Shortell said, “We came in looking toward the future, excited for the challenge. A blank slate is how we looked at it.”

The federal government accuses the prior elections commissioners of violating voters’ rights when they failed to process almost 3,000 registrations from would-be-voters who applied online through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The commissioners say that back-log is caught up, due to doubling the number of clerks from four to eight. They say they’re willing to do the work themselves and ask the County Executive for more help, if necessary.

In time for Tuesday’s primary, the Board of Elections will make sure voters are directed to the correct polling places.

Last November, State Supreme Court ruled that it couldn’t count hundreds of affidavit ballots that were filled out by voters in the wrong polling place, instead of those voters being directed to vote by machine in the correct location.

“That is something we addressed with our poll workers,” Commissioner Shortell said. “We just got done with 16 training sessions with our poll workers.”

Commissioner Bormann pointed out that she hopes to convert to poll pads, iPads for each polling location with software that helps direct voters to their correct site.

Oneida County has eight of the devices currently, but needs more than 100 to outfit each location.

The eight devices were enough for Oneida County’s three early voting locations for the 2021 primary.

Both commissioners have reached out to counterparts in neighboring counties for guidance, like Onondaga.

“Everyone has a common goal. It’s to ensure that every voters’ vote is counted and every election is fair and honest,” said Commission Shortell.

In February, the State Supreme Court Justice assigned NY-22 ruled that he couldn’t fix some of the mistakes made by Oneida County.

Democrat Elections Commissioner Carolann Cardone and Republican Commissioner Rose Marie Grimaldi resigned as a result of the mistakes.

Certified as the winner by 101 votes, Congresswoman Tenney was sworn in on February 11.

Tuesday, Oneida County has primaries in four towns: Deerfield for Democrats, and New Hartford, Vienna and Western for Republicans.

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