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Voter turnout could be higher in central NY's 2018 congressional Democratic primary

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
A polling place in Syracuse.

Tuesday is primary day for federal elections in New York. Democrats across central New York's 24th Congressional District will choose between Dana Balter and Juanita Perez Williams, both competing for the Democratic nomination in the race to take on incumbent Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) in November.

Some hope turnout is higher than two years ago.

Democratic Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said national trends show more Democrats are voting in the 2018 primaries.

“In 2016, when we had a June primary, the voter turnout was nine percent, which is as horrible as you can imagine," Czarny said. "But the absentee ballot count is a little bit higher than 2016, so we’re hopeful for a higher turnout.”

Czarny said absentee ballots are up 25 percent this year.

Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m.

Keep political shirts and buttons at home

Czarny said voters should not wear t-shirts or buttons with the names of candidates on the ballot.

“If you do go into a polling place, please leave that stuff at home," Czarny said. "If you happen to have it on, you’ll be asked to cover it up, or take it off or turn it inside out, before getting your ballot.”

This comes after a Supreme Court decision earlier this month struck down a Minnesota law that banned political apparel from polling places. Czarny said that ruling clarified what is existing policy in New York State and gave more guidance. 

"The Minnesota law was too broad," Czarny said. "Prohibition against political messaging of any kind is not prohibited, such as slogans or candidates not on the ballot, Obama t-shirts, Trump t-shirts. These are people who are not going to be on the ballot this fall, so those things are allowed.

A primary for local offices in New York will be held in September.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.