There has been record early voting across the country prior to this official Election Day. In two mostly rural northern New York counties, election officials say lines have been long as people exercise their voting options.
During the nine days of early voting the only place in Clinton County where you could vote was the Government Center in Plattsburgh. On the first day when Democratic Elections Commissioner Mary Dyer came in at 7:15 to prepare for the 10 a.m. start, there was already a line. For a time it would stretch through the parking lot, down the street and around the block. Dyer said while the line wasn’t always that long voters steadily arrived throughout the early voting period. “It was fantastic. We had over 8,400 voters show up to early vote. Between the early voting and absentees we’re probably at 30% right now.”
In adjacent Essex County, Democratic Elections Commissioner Sue Montgomery Corey reports enthusiasm has been high. “Last year which was our first experience with early voting we had just under 300 voters come out over nine days. As of Sunday evening which was the end of early voting we had 2,521 voters out. Which was wonderful. We’re very very pleased.”
Montgomery-Corey continues: “People like the fact that they could accommodate their own schedules with this and they like the fact that the system that we had in place worked very well. We were located at the public safety building in Lewis which provided us with the security we needed.”
The early votes have not yet been counted. Dyer says they will be tallied when the polls close at 9 p.m. “All the machines have cards and it’s a record of the votes. And not until Election Night can we get that result when we tally out that card.”
The northern New York elections officials also report a large number of absentee ballots have been requested and returned. Dyer said a little over 8,000 absentee ballots had been sent to voters and as of Monday almost 7,100 had been returned. She explained that there are no mail-in ballots to process. “An absentee ballot you have to request. A mail-in is when they automatically mail everybody in the county a ballot. We just have absentee which is by request.”
In New York absentee ballots must be postmarked by today, Election Day. They can also be dropped off at poll sites or local Boards of Elections. Clinton County’s absentee ballots will be counted next Monday, November 9th, beginning at 9 a.m. In Essex County 4,757 had been sent and as of Monday 3,694 had been returned. Sue Montgomery-Corey says they will begin opening absentee ballots on November 12th. “So it’ll be the absentees, any military ballots that we’ve received, the affidavit ballots that come in where somebody comes to a poll site, they think they’re in the book. They’re not in the book. We give them a ballot so they can vote and then we do follow up to make sure that they are voting where they should be voting.”
Dyer says it has been a long and unusual election season. “We usually do not get busy for a general election until the beginning of October. We were busy the end of August. It was just, it’s been insane. Absolutely insane.”
Bradley: “Is it because of early voting or is it other stuff?”
Mary Dyer: “No it’s just, just this election. It’s 2020. We’ve been thrown a lot of curveballs so whatever happens happens.”
There are 51,751 registered voters in Clinton County with 11,482 of those in the city of Plattsburgh. Essex County has about 27,337 registered voters.