The return of paper ballots, after decades of voting with lever machines, presented a few hang-ups this morning, but many voters and poll workers said they found the new system fairly easy once they got over the initial, "Oh, this is different," factor.
"It wasn't difficult at all," Sue Ochs of Saranac Lake said after marking her ballot by hand and inserting it into the machine at the Harrietstown Town Hall. "It took a little more time than than the other machines, but that's all."
"It was OK - a little weird," Barbara Brown of Saranac Lake said.
In Tupper Lake, Jane LaVoy, left, and Cheryl Vaillancourt show Raymond Brown how to fill out the paper ballot, which will then be fed into the new ballot-scanning machine.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Others, however, said the new process wastes paper, is less private and leaves more room for error.
Things seemed to be going fairly smoothly by 7:30 this morning at the Harrietstown Town Hall, but some veteran poll workers said problems had presented themselves.
"This is very confusing to all of us," poll worker Esther Arlan said, noting that some people were not filling in the squares completely with the provided Sharpie-style black markers.
Election inspector Clarence Duprey said a few ballots had already been spoiled for this reason. Others had to be redone because the markers initially gushed too much ink and soaked through the paper ballots, but that was solved shortly after the polls first opened at 6 a.m., Duprey said.
"Most people are really confused," Duprey said. "There was not enough information from the newspapers and the radio on what to expect. A lot of people said, 'If I had known there was reading and paper involved, I would've brought my glasses.'
"Personally, I think it will be better later on," he added. "It was even confusing to us inspectors (at first). They gave us two hours of training, and then they gave us a big book to read.
"We're learning, too."
At one Tupper Lake polling station, however, election inspectors said the first hour of voting went off without a hitch.
"We're not having any problems whatsoever," said Cheryl Vaillancourt, chairwoman of the Ivy Terrace polling site.
Vaillancourt, Jane LaVoy, Irene Francis and Ethel Bower explained to people how to vote and reminded them to vote on Proposition 1 and that former congressional candidate Dede Scozzafava had dropped out of the race.
By 7 a.m., the women had seen 14 voters, all of whom, they said, seemed satisfied with the new machines.
Back in Saranac Lake, David Snyder just turned 18 on Sunday, and today was his first time voting. His mother, Carol Baker, hadn't known about the new voting method and therefore sat him down with the sample ballots inside the Enterprise's Voter Guide (in Friday's paper) and explained how to flip the small levers for each vote and then pull the big lever when he was done. They then saw a reminder story in Monday's Enterprise about the new system.
They tried it out today, and she didn't like it - "something nostalgic about pulling the lever," she said.
Also, she said, without a curtain behind you, "It doesn't seem as private a vote. More room for error, I think, if you don't fill in the box all the way."
"I guess it was a good first-time experience," Snyder said, "but it was different than how it was explained to me.
"I guess anything would've been weird."