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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Steuben lawmakers appoint new Democratic elections commissioner

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  • Kelly Penziul was appointed Monday as Steuben County’s new Democratic elections commissioner.
    The Steuben County Legislature unanimously approved Penziul’s appointment. She will take over the position previously held by Joseph Welch, who resigned in May.
    Penziul, a Gang Mills resident, has worked at the county Board of Elections for the past 14 years. She was the deputy Democratic commissioner prior to being appointed Monday.
    Penziul was recommended by Shawn Hogan, chair of the Steuben County Democratic Committee.
    The commissioner position is a full-time post with a salary of $48,885.
    “Kelly has done a fine job for all the years she’s been there,” Steuben County Administrator Mark Alger said. “She’s been a good employee and I think she’ll do a fine job.”
    There’s a lot more work involved with being an elections commissioner than just overseeing the September primaries and November elections, Alger said.
    The switch to the new electronic voting machines several years ago - required by the federal Help America Vote Act - created a lot of work, Alger said. The machines require voters to fill in paper ballots with a marker then feed them into the machines, rather than pulling a lever.
    “The Help America Vote Act did not do us any favors,” Alger said. “Going to these machines has been a nightmare. It was a colossal waste of money that we’ll be paying for for a long time.”
    The lever machines violated HAVA guidelines because they were difficult for people with disabilities to use and didn’t provide a paper trail if the outcome of a vote is disputed.
    The Steuben County Board of Elections - located in Bath - has a six-person staff, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. Veronica Olin is the Republican commissioner.
    Aside from administering elections, the duties of the elections commissioners include setting up and testing the voting machines; registering voters and maintaining records; recruiting and training the approximately 400 elections inspectors needed to staff poll sites; and processing candidates’ petitions.

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