The Judge’s Decision Highlights The Position And Demands Of Election Commissioners
Lost notices of stickiness. Ballots Mislaid.
In a 21-page decision Tuesday, State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte detailed several mistakes and violations of state election law in the 2020 election for the 22nd Congressional District of New York. In the district’s eight-county election commissions, only Tioga County spared the judge’s critique.
The county election boards made election commissioners eligible during sworn testimony on Nov. 23 and 24 to answer questions from DelConte or lawyers for the candidates, U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi and Claudia Tenney, the Republican challenger. Tenney leads Brindisi in a replay of the 2018 election by 12 votes in the new count.
The State election law governs the appointment of the Election Commissioners. The law also assign the duties of the election commissioners. These commissioners have to hold elections and to handle the balloting of votes, including appeals from candidates.
During general and primary elections, the commissioners also manage hundreds of temporary workers.
State election law requires each county to have two election commissioners to manage its elections, one Democrat and one Republican. New York City has ten commissioners on its election board, representing the five counties within the city.
With the appointments made by the county legislative body, local political parties make recommendations to election commissioners. The commissioners receive the same salary, set by the legislature of the county.
Election Commissioners Rose Grimaldi, a Republican, and Carolann Cardone, a Democrat, had $85,165 in 2020 in Oneida County.
The position of election commissioner represents the last remnants of local government patronage politics, said Luke Perry. He is the director of the Public Affairs and Election Research Center of Utica College.
Position Criteria: The person must be a county registered voter and an enrolled member of the political party who recommends them for an appointment.
Although, Perry said the job is a demanding one, and the position requirements are minimal. Election administration is of too much complications. So, the commissioners also need to stay up-to-date with election law. That can be difficult with shifting health guidelines and election reforms in a year like 2020, he said.
Above the median household income of $53,884 in Oneida County, the commissioner’s wages should be seen as an incentive to get people with election law knowledge to seek the position, Perry said.