By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer
Republican Elections Commissioner Pamela N. Mandryck does not reject the idea of moving the county’s approximate 120 voting machines into a county building at the former airport in Whitestown even though her office is staying in Utica. But she does see some costs associated with travel between the two locations. "Optimally, we would all be in one place, but if we can save $60,000 a year by having the storage facility at the airport, then the taxpayers should see the savings," she said.
Mandryck notes that the voting machines have never been in the same place as the elections office. They’ve been stored in a warehouse less than two miles from the board office in Union Station since the machines were bought in 2008. Union Station and the Whitestown location are at least 10 miles apart.
"Of course the proximity is important and there will be some mileage costs for picking up items from Utica Board of Elections or the County Office Building and getting them to the airport, but it shouldn’t be particularly substantive," Mandryck said.
On Wednesday, a Board of Legislators committee rejected putting a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot seeking the required voter approval to move the elections office out of Utica. The goal was to put the office and machines under the same roof to eliminate the lease cost and boost efficiency. After the committee’s decision that keeps the Board of Elections office in Utica, several lawmakers said it still might be worthwhile to investigate moving just the machines to Whitestown and, as a result, get out of leased space. The annual lease cost is $61,285.
Al Candido, chief of staff to County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., said at this meeting that Picente would not support moving only the machines to Whitestown if the two elections commissioner weren’t supportive of such an action.
One of the legislators proposing to move the machines to the Whitestown locations is David J. Gordon, D-14, New Hartford.
He said moving of these machines from the Utica building would not only ensure that the county is compliant with state and federal regulations, but that the taxpayers would reap a dollar savings. "We have the space to house these machines in a building that the county owns," he said. "Why would we be leasing inadequate space at such an expensive rate?"
He said there was even a leak at the leased facility that cost the county $15,000 for the repair of machines that were damaged.
There’s also a convenience factor in Whitestown. The machines would be stored on the same floor as the loading dock. In Utica, the machines are kept on the third floor, which means the machines have to be loaded into and out of an elevator every time they are moved for an election.
When the current storage location was selected in 2008, being reasonably close to elections office in Union Station was a consideration.