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June 24, 2021 - 7:53am

Low early voting turnout exasperates county legislators

A waste of time and money?

Genesee County governmental leaders on Wednesday expressed their public displeasure over the extremely low early voting turnout prior to Tuesday’s Republican Primary races in the towns of Bethany, Byron and Stafford.

County Manager Matt Landers reported that only six people took advantage of the nine days of early voting – all of them casting their ballots in the Town of Stafford, which held a primary for the position of town clerk.

“The other two races had zero voters even though we had nine days of early voting – at a not cheap cost” (to those municipalities), he said. “So, some food for thought.”

Landers said the county will “charge back” expenses (personnel, etc.) for the early voting at the ARC Community Center in Batavia to the towns. He explained that the three towns will pay proportionally based on the total number of registered voters in the municipalities, not by the number of people who voted.

He said he expects the total cost to be several thousand dollars considering that four election workers were called to duty each day under supervision of both Republican and Democrat commissioners.

Upon hearing that just six early votes were cast, Legislator Marianne Clattenburg brought up that Democrat lawmakers in Washington have been promoting “a one size fits all” voting reform.

“This is a perfect example of how that does not (fit),” she said.

That prompted Landers to say that while the county conducted nine days of early voting, “there’s a push to make it 15 days …”

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said calls and/or letters to state and federal representatives are in order.

“I think that would be incumbent upon us to alert our representatives, both in the state and federal government … as an example of funds that aren’t being used in the manner that is prescribed and the value of those funds being used,” she said.

In another development, Mental Health Director Lynda Battaglia reported that the department’s application for a mobile access program has been accepted.

“This is an exciting opportunity to change how we deliver crisis service at the times that people need this service the most,” Landers said. “We look forward to seeing the results of that program.”

A key feature of the mobile access program is the use of an iPad for mental health crisis response with law enforcement personnel on-site.

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