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Erie County Board of Elections officials to meet with postal service

Ryan Zunner / WBFO News
Board of Elections staff scan a grouping of envelopes for counting in the June primary.

Erie County's elections commissioners may meet with U.S. Postal Service officials this week to make sure the cutbacks at Buffalo's main post office on William Street and in Rochester aren't going to interfere with voting by mail in November.
If the primary election in June is any indication, there will be a whole lot of votes cast by mail in November and New York State has changed some of the rules, based on the June problems.

However, the big issue will be getting votes sent out and returned in time to meet the tangled web of requirements on when votes can be officially counted to make the results widely believed.

Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner said it is essential to get the ballots back and counted.

"We were able to get everything out on our end (in June), but sometimes the mail was taking four, five days to deliver locally," he said.

Zellner said there weren't too many problems in June and the Board of Elections is already doing some things in the new state law.

"If someone's form is not properly filled out when they apply for a ballot, we contact them and let them know, with due diligence, that their form is not correct or it was incomplete," Zellner said.

The new rules also ease the requirement that every returned ballot envelope have a postmark.

Zellner said Erie County prints most of its own material, which is fortunate in a year when many elections administrators are having trouble getting ballots printed because of volume issues. There is a problem getting enough envelopes and getting them printed.

All this is important to Zellner because he is also the county Democratic Chairman and any presidential election is a big deal.

"Putting on my commissioner's hat, that's my job as the Democratic commissioner to be sure that our party's interests are being looked after at the Board of Elections and I'm gonna damn well make sure that happens this week with the Postal Service," he said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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