December 1, 2021

Truxton suing county Board of Election

The town of Truxton will file suit against the Cortland County Board of Elections after the board removed the polling station in town for the June 23 primary election.

“The board unanimously voted to proceed with an Article 78 in (state) Supreme Court,” said town Supervisor Lloyd Sutton on Thursday.

The town had a special meeting Wednesday to move forward with the lawsuit, which would ask the court to review the Board of Elections’ actions of moving its polling station from the Truxton Fire Station to the Cuyler Fire Station.

Democratic Commissioner Tom Brown would not comment on the lawsuit.

“I don’t want to say anything until I speak to the county attorney now that it’s gone that far,” he said.

County Attorney Karen Howe also said she wouldn’t comment and had no idea about any lawsuit being filed.

Sutton said several points were made by the board regarding the change.

“There was no communication from the county before they went ahead and sent out the cards and changed the location,” Sutton said. “I believe the law requires them to consult with the town.”

He said the town offered to have people trained to be poll inspectors, but the Board of Election rejected that idea.

“They’re just not willing to look at other options,” Sutton said.

The town is also concerned that moving the location will mean fewer people in the town will vote. He said many people in town will travel to Cortland or Syracuse, if they need to, but won’t travel to the new polling place in Cuyler, 4 * miles away.

“Moving that away from them is a substantial issue,” he said.

Board member Gus Wehbe had also said, “We have senior citizens in Truxton who don’t have transportation,” but should be able to vote in person if they want to.

But the shift — like most of the changes across the county as polling places have been condensed — come with reasons, Brown and fellow Commissioner Robert Howe said last week.

The county Board of Elections lacked both poll workers and polling machines.

COVID-19 has posed a disproportionate risk to older people, including the population of poll workers who normally staff polling places, they said. Many people have decided not to work this primary.

Also, the on-again, off-again, on-again Democratic presidential primary means Democratic voters will need to fill out two ballots, and that will require two machines to count them, Howe and Brown said.

Each polling place must now offer enough space, both inside and outside the building, to maintain 6-foot social distancing guidelines. In Truxton’s case, they said, the Truxton Fire Station is a smaller facility with less parking, unless people park across the street, which presents its own dangers. The Cuyler Fire Station has more space.

That’s less convenient, Wehbe said, particularly for the residents of a senior housing complex who can now walk to the Truxton station, and for voters who head southwest into Cortland to work or to shop.

Sutton said he is waiting to hear back from the town attorney about proceeding to file the suit.