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Sept. 1, 2004

Scriber Elected Chair of Legislative Committee of State Election Commissioners Association

Legislator Jack Beckwith, chairman of the Oswego County Legislature's Records Committee, announced today that Election Commissioner William Scriber would head the Legislative Committee of the State Election Commissioners Association.

The association of election commissioners makes recommendations to the state legislature about compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, voting system technologies, and other issues. Scriber was elected chairman, and Republican Election Commissioner Donald Wart was elected to the legislative committee, at the association's annual meeting.

Legislator Beckwith said that the Oswego County Board of Elections has also received several awards for best practices in elections management. He noted that the two commissioners share bi-partisan responsibility for the board.

"All counties outside New York City have a bi-partisan board, one Democrat and one Republican election commissioner, nominated by their county committee and affirmed by their County Legislature," said Legislator Beckwith, District 21, Hannibal. "It is an honor for Oswego County to have this recognition on behalf of the state association."

Scriber was appointed as Democrat Commissioner in 1997. He served two years as a member of the state legislative committee and has a long record of involvement with the association.

The Legislature's Records Committee deals with all matters pertaining to the Board of Elections Office, the Department of Real Property Tax Services, and the County Clerk's Office. In addition to Legislator Beckwith, committee members are legislators Clayton Brewer, District 24, Fulton; Arthur Gearsbeck, District 6, West Monroe and Hastings; Leonard Ponzi, District 17, Oswego and Scriba; Jerry Thomas, District 1, Sandy Creek, Redfield, Boylston; and Phillip Vasho, District 22, Fulton and Granby.

The Help America Vote Act, which was passed by Congress in 2002, is a set of reforms for the election process throughout the U.S. The law requires that mechanical lever voting machines be replaced with electronic voting machines across New York State by Jan. 1, 2006.

"Since the presidential election in 2000, there has been a great deal of attention given to the need for consistent procedures and modern voting equipment across the U.S.," said Scriber. "The association's legislative committee studies bills and proposed legislation to make sure that progress is being made to aid the voting process. Our focus is to try to get money from the federal and state levels to the local boards to implement the modernization process."

Scriber said the state association has adopted three priorities for the coming year: Increase funding for county boards through the federal Help America Vote Act and the State of New York; streamline procedures to correct inconsistencies among training and compensating inspectors; and make the county boards of elections responsible for all aspects of running an election, including maintenance and ownership of polling machines.

A 2002 report issued by the New York State Task Force on Election Modernization contains several recommendations to help streamline the election process in New York State. One of the recommendations is the development of a statewide voter registration database.

"The state is recommending that the counties set up a system that we don't have the infrastructure for," said Scriber. "Oswego County is better than most of the counties in our computer capabilities, but we wouldn't be able to accomplish the state's recommendations without a funding source."

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