Akwesasne election board looking at using electronic voting machines for June 2 election
Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 5:34 pm

AKWESASNE -- The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Election Board looking at introducing electronic tallying for the June 2 tribal elections.

A mock public election will be held at 3:15 p.m. on May 7 at the Office of the Aging (Senior Center) for tribal voters to become familiar with an electronic tallying system.

“We want tribal voters to participate in the May 7th mock election and learn about the benefits of using electronic machines,” Election Board member Joseph Bowen-Brewer said in a news release. He noted, “Members of the Election Board will be on hand to explain and assist individuals on the process to submit votes electronically. It’s a process that some tribal voters are already familiar with using in the school board elections.”

For the past year, the election board has been exploring options to “enhance efficiency and voter confidence, as well as to reduce time and costs associated with conducting tribal elections,” according to the tribe.

Tribal officials say the most viable option is using Dominion-brand voting machines for in-person voting from the Franklin County Office of the Election Board. The county Election Board provides the same machines to the Salmon River school board for their board elections and budget vote, the tribe said.

The Tribal Election Board has a memorandum of understanding with the Franklin County Office of the Election Board to furnish the electronic machines at no cost. The only costs associated with using an electronic tally system are for purchasing voting ballots and sets of memory cards, as well as for labor and delivery. This totals around $1,500 and represents a savings from previous elections, the tribe said.

“Electronic voting machines significantly reduce the number of people and time needed to manually count each ballot,” said Election Board member Hope Wheelock said in the release. “Automating the voting process reduces the likelihood of human error and increases the integrity of the vote, as well as provides election results in a fraction of the time. What took hours to count by hand will now be performed in minutes.”

Following the mock election, the Election Board has scheduled a presentation for tribal members that will be held at 5:30 p.m. on May 14 in the tribe’s Community Building lobby. The mock election will be recorded and viewed at the beginning of the May 14 public meeting, as well as on Akwesasne TV.