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Elections commissioners from NYS plead for more financial support

Workers show how new voting machines will work in Onondaga County this fall.
Dustin Czarny
Dustin Czarny
Workers show how new voting machines will work in Onondaga County this fall.

It may only be February, but Board of Elections commissioners are already preparing for what they expect to be a busy election season.

Dustin Czarny serves as the Democratic Elections Commissioner for Onondaga County, but at state budget hearings he spoke on behalf of Republicans and Democrats in theNew York State Election Commissioners Association. Czarny told state lawmakers he expects 2024 to be a hectic and challenging year and asked for $10 million more than Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget.

"This $10 million dollars in extra funding that we are requesting, distributed by the State Board of Elections based on voter population, will allow the counties to have the flexibility they need to meet the needs that you, the legislature, have asked us to do in this upcoming presidential election,” Czarny said.

Czarny said elections commissioners expect to see a significant amount of voters who have not voted in person since 2016. Meanwhile, they’re grappling with expanded early voting hours, early voting by mail, and a 10-day voter registration limit.

Erica Smitka from theLeague of Women Voters is echoing Czarny’s concerns, saying the funding in this year’s proposed budget has not increased substantially from last year’s budget.

"It would be unreasonable to assume that counties can run almost twice as many races this year with similar amounts of funding from the state, especially when a portion of those races will be state-elected positions,” Smitka said.

The proposed budget does include $14 million for new electronic poll books. Czarny said those should be ready for use by next year’s June primary.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.