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Ahead of Election Day, more than one-third of Onondaga County voters have already cast ballots

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Jason Smith
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WRVO News (file photo)

The second year of early voting in New York has been a resounding success. In Onondaga County alone, nearly 60,000 voters cast ballots during the nine day early voting window that ended Sunday.

“This is amazing and it’s a great problem to have,” Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said. “It’s obviously showing the popularity of early voting, it’s showing the need for more sites, it’s showing the need for more investments by Onondaga County for this program because 60,000 people want it.”

Czarny wanted to have eight early voting locations open in Onondaga County, but the Republican-led County Legislature approved six. Long lines at several sites led to wait times longer than an hour at times.

Even with the wait times, Czarny said he only expected about 40,000 voters to take part in early voting.

"We’ve had decent weather for October, that’s helped,” he said. “And let’s face it, this election, people have been circling this for four years, and they can vote on their own time and convenience, and that is something that’s very powerful.”

This is only the second year of early voting in New York, and this year’s numbers are much larger than  the numbers of early voters in last year’s off-year election. Board of Elections figures show Democrats were twice as likely to vote early than Republicans, and the busiest early voting locations were in Camillus, DeWitt and Clay. 

There was also a flood of absentee ballots sent in across the state, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Combined with absentees, more than 30% of registered voters in Onondaga County cast a ballot before Election Day. 

Czarny though still expects brisk business Tuesday.

“That still leaves about 200,000 people who could vote out there, I expect 120,000 thousand to actually come out and vote still.”

If Czarny’s prediction holds, that would put voter turnout close to 70%.

Absentee ballots can still be requested in person through Monday. Those ballots can then be mailed back, as long as their postmarked by November 3. But officials do not recommend mailing back an absentee ballot this close to Election Day. Absentee ballots can be dropped off at any polling place by 9 p.m. Tuesday.