Meet the new Oneida County Board of Election Commissioners

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UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — The Oneida County Board of Elections is working hard to restore voter confidence after the 2020 election exposed a long list of flaws in their performance, I got the chance to sit down with the new commissioners, Sarah Bormann and Nichole Shortell, to talk about their qualifications and how they plan on restoring voter confidence.

“We have to stay, it’s ever-changing, we do have to stay knowledgable,” Shortell said about election law in New York. “But we have a great attorney’s office that helps us as well.”

Agreeing with her Republican counterpart, Bormann added, “yes, so we’re doing a lot of reading and consulting with that asking for the attorney’s opinion the state board of elections gives us a lot of guidance we ask a lot of questions.” 

Shortell, the Republican commissioner, has spent the last 25 years working in the legal field, the last 12 she spent at the Oneida County Attorney’s office. Bormann, the Democratic commissioner, has an extensive local political background, working for Michael Arcuri, Richard Hanna, and Anthony Brindisi. Their combined experience makes them a good team to tackle the fallout and repercussions from the 2020 election.

“Well, one of the most immediate changes that we were able to realize is that the county legislator approved additional principal clerk positions for the office that is huge,” Bormann said. “Their main responsibility is the list maintenance, which is processing new registrations, any changes to registrations, keeping the voter rolls up to date.”

They assure me that the voter list is up to date, an assurance that is necessary considering during the 2020 election, Oneida County failed to register over 2,000 eligible voters in time. Another change they have made is to implement cross-training in their offices. This is to ensure that everyone in the office knows how to do everyone’s job, both commissioners cross-trained as well and can register voters themselves. They also revamped the county’s poll training process

“We’re starting in September,” Shortell said. “We want our poll workers to feel more confident. If they are more confident the voters are more confident and we want a good voter experience.”

The board of elections is currently recruiting for additional poll workers, the position pays up to $200 a day, and $25 for training.

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