CHENANGO COUNTY — The Chenango County Board of Elections have recently purchased new voting machines and are inviting county voters to try them out during early voting, which begins this weekend.
Early voting will be available at the Chenango County Board of Elections Office in the County Office Building, located at 5 Court Street in Norwich, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday October 28 and 29, and November 4 and 5; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday October 30 and November 1; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday October 31 and November 2.
"Anyone who is a registered voter in Chenango County can vote here at our office here at the County Office Building. There’s only one early voting polling site; by law that’s what we have to have in Chenango County," explained Chenango County Republican Election Commissioner Mary Lou Monahan.
All unregistered voters will have until Saturday, October 28 to register to vote in early voting or the November 7 General Election.
Monahan said the entire fleet of voting machines have been replaced with new models thanks to grant funding and approximately two years of planning by the Chenango County Board of Elections.
"We knew we were going to have to make a change because our voting machines, our prior voting machines, were 14 years old this year. So we really knew when they turned 10, 11 years old and as we started to have more maintenance on them, we knew we really needed to just make a decision," said Monahan.
She said the purchase took some time as they had to wait for the new machines to be certified by the state.
"We couldn't actually purchase something that was not certified by New York State. So we had all of our plans in place for quite some time but we had to wait until the certification process actually was accomplished."
Now the Board of Elections has a brand new fleet of two types of machines: ClearMark Go and ClearCast Go.
"What is different, other than the fact that they look very different, is one machine is called ClearMark Go, and that is for people with disabilities who need to have the ballot read to them or use their own special equipment to be able to access the ballot," Monahan explained. "The other one is called ClearCast Go, and that is where all of the ballots get scanned through."
"It was one machine, both these functions could happen, where now it’s one machine is dedicated for disabilities," she added.
All registered voters in Chenango County can use the new machines during early voting, or county residents are also welcome to stop by the Board of Elections Office to take a look at the new machines.
The City of Norwich and the Town of German also have some additional changes coming this voting season. Both municipalities will be introducing new polling sites this year.
The City of Norwich has moved their polling site from St. Bartholomew’s Parish Center to the Community Room at the Guernsey Memorial Library, located at 3 Court Street in Norwich.
"Periodically we review polling sites and what the requirements are and what the accommodations are, and we made the decision that we would be reviewing new polling sites in the City of Norwich, and that’s how we selected the Community Room at the library," said Monahan.
She said the change will be permanent, until and if the polling site is reviewed and relocated in the future. Signs will also be posted at St. Bartholomew's Parish Center directing City of Norwich voters to the new polling site.
The Town of German polling site will move from the Smithville Fire Department and return to the German Town Hall, located at 206 County Road 5 in McDonough.
"It’s a brand new hall because their other one is damaged, somebody drove into it," said Monahan. "They were just able to add a new site and refurbish it, and so it will be used for the first time for German residents for the November 7 General Election this year."
"We always encourage people to come out and vote," Monahan said. "Any voter in Chenango County is welcome to come."