A look in front and behind the polls

Oswego, N.Y. — With millions of ballots cast, the United States has  produced a record number of early voters. State to state local boards of election are running poll sites and implementing new procedures to vote. As Oswego County Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Peggy Bickford tells me, this election is one for the books.

“We’ve had an enormous amount of absentee voting here this year. So, applicants we’ve had 9,772. And usually it’s about 2,000,” Bickford said.

With a difference of more than 7,000 new applicants, and a pandemic to think about, planning this election has been hard for both the republican and democratic commissioner, Laura Brazak. 

“This is the first year we’ve used electronic poll books, it’s during a pandemic, we have extra people on, we’re wiping down pens, and styluses, and machines, and privacy booths,”Brasak said.

And with the e-books the commissioners will be able to switch voter registration information to electronic files. But a problem Brazak says they faced while switching the information was how many people they had on file. 

“So we had to research, purchase, and learn, and then implement. So that was quite a timely undertaking,” Brazak said.

Along with switching their paper files to electronic records, the local  board of elections also had to double and triple check ballot counts. Bickford says this timely process is usually monitored by appointed inspectors. 

“We probably will have people here that want to watch, and that slows the process down a little cause they have to scrutinize each envelope and all of that,” Bickford said. 

And in a county of more than 100,000 people with a staff of only 10 people, the commissioners say their jobs will last way past the election deadline.