MALONE - Franklin County's legislators have left the fate of two full-time voting machine technician positions up to the county elections commissioners.
The techs are responsible for the delivery of the voting machines, the poll site set-ups, testing the machines and collecting the machines after an election.
The decision to cut these full-time positions was agreed upon in October by the county Board of Legislators and Franklin County election commissioners Kelly Cox and Veronica King, but the 2014 budget maintained funding for them anyway.
The issue created a stir when it is came up during the March Board of Legislators meeting. Cox, the Democratic commissioner, and King, the Republican commissioner, both agree the tech positions could be switched to part time, but they don't agree on when that should happen.
Legislator Paul Maroun, R-Tupper Lake, said at last week's board meeting that the legislators' hands were tied.
"There is no county resolution going to be offered because state Election Law is very clear," Maroun said. "We appoint the commissioners, and we set their salaries and their deputies' (salaries). We can't force a commissioner of elections to make their techs part time, per diem or full time, but what we can control is the budget. So next year I would imagine the budget will show a lesser amount of money in the personnel line that they would have to spend. Election Law trumps county law in this matter."
Maroun said he told Cox and King the same thing. The two commissioners still don't see eye to eye, though.
"I am going to leave my tech full time, and next year he will go part time," King told the Enterprise. "I think the board made a good decision."
King said she doesn't think it's fair to cut a position to part time after the county has already budgeted for the full-time position. Now, she said, her tech will have time to consider his options before next year.
"Now he's aware of what's going to happen," King said. "If he decides to find a job somewhere else I totally understand. He's been a valued employee, but I also understand that, when you have a family to support, you do what you need to do for that family."
Cox has made a different decision regarding her tech.
"I decided to put my tech part time for the interest of saving the taxpayers money, because the techs aren't busy right now," Cox said. "My tech will be working full time when needed during quarterly maintenance, training and election time."
Cox said she wouldn't know how much money the switch will save until the end of the year.
"I think their hands and our hands were tied," Cox said. "The legislators and I agree; I just wish Veronica and I could have agreed on it."
Contact Shaun Kittle at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.