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Utica: School District Trains Election Workers for May 17th Vote for School Board and Budget

By Tom Loughlin Jr. | Columnist 

Six candidates: James Paul, Tennille Knoop, David Testa, Michael Fellows, Jack LoMedico, and Howard Potter seek election to the two open seats on the School Board.  

Voters will also decide whether or not to approve the School District’s 2022-2023 budget of $213.5 million, and “Proposition No. 1”—Funding the Utica Public Library—“Shall the sum of $850,130 be raised by annual levy of a tax upon the taxable real property within the Utica City School District for the purpose of funding the Utica Public Library?

During her address to the assembled first-time and veteran election workers, Board Clerk Hughes’ instructions were sprinkled moments of humor and recognition of the humanness of the workers.  

Hughes said that she knew that the workers would be wanting to use their cell phones, and would be engaging in chats, and that scheduling lunch/dinner breaks would require cooperation and coordination.  

With that accession to the workers offered, Hughes’s tone changed, admonishing “Remember, this isn’t a day off.  You are at work. The responsibility of the election inspector is that the election runs smoothly and the public can come and vote and that the process is smooth and easy. When voters are present in the poll sites, you are to be at your stations, ready and equipped to serve them.

Worker/trainees were told that some of their concerns about cramped space at the school rooms, which principals had designated for the prior election in December, had been brought to those principals’ attention stating, “We’ve informed the principals of schools where election sites are located, that the area each selects for voting is large enough to comfortably hold not only the workers, but the voting public as well.”

Election workers are paid a base of $200 at the election inspector level, with increased remuneration for positions of higher responsibility. Attendees at the training session will receive an additional $30.

Duties of workers at each level were set forth in detail, including preparation of the poll site prior to opening, closing procedures, scrutiny of the voting machine and, with special emphasis on handling of affidavit (provisional) ballots, and determination of the voters’ proper voting site for their ward and district of residence.

Regarding contentious moments with voters about their registration status or other aspects of their eligibility to vote, Hughes told the trainees that they were not to engage in heated arguments, citing “affidavit ballots” as a way to let the contentious voter, or not provably registered voter, an opportunity to vote.  Their vote’s validity would be affirmed or rejected in a review process after polls closed.

Asked about the atmosphere at candidate debates held throughout the city, which one debate conductor had described as “hate-filled,” especially regarding the comportment of the attending public, Hughes said she could not comment on that “because the district does not engage in any aspect of the political part of the elections.” 

For polling locations, visit https://www.ocgovboe.net/election-information/polling-sites/. 

Mark Ziobro
Mark Ziobrohttps://uticaphoenixnet.wpcomstaging.com
Mark is the current Managing Editor for The Utica Phoenix, and a Central New York Native.

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