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On primary day, concern of lower voter turnout in Onondaga County

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)

Tuesday is primary day for local offices in New York State. It is the first time local races are having primaries in June, since the legislature passed voting reforms earlier this year. Some election officials in Onondaga County are worried about a lower voter turnout.

Local primaries in New York used to be held in September and federal primaries in June. Come next year, both will fall on the same day in June. But this year, there are only local primaries on the ballot. Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said there has been record high turnout in the past few years for the Syracuse mayoral primary and general elections, as well as federal primary and general elections.

“The difference with this primary is, it’s a much smaller scale in terms of race," Czarny said. "You only have the city of Syracuse. It’s not a full countywide primary. And with the election shift, there could be a slight downturn in turnout as we get used to this new calendar. We’re prepared for a high turnout, but we won’t be surprised with a lower one.”

On the ballot for Democrats are some Onondaga County Legislature, Syracuse Common Council and city school board seats. Republicans in the town of Cicero will vote for town supervisor and town councilor seats.

In Oneida County, Republicans will choose between incumbent County Executive Anthony Picente and David Gordon for the county executive race. And in the Utica mayoral race, Democrats will choose between incumbent Mayor Robert Palmieri and Councilman Joe Marino.

Polls are open from noon to 9 pm.

This is the last “old-fashioned” election as Czarny puts it. Starting with the general election in November, there will be, from now on, early voting, electronic poll books and extended hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., in the general and primary elections.

For more information for Onondaga County voters, visit ongov.net/elections.

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.