Yates County early voters line up

John Christensen, Jon Campbell
The Chronicle-Express, N.Y. State Team

Whole state turns out big for first day of early voting

PENN YAN — Yates County voters came out in big numbers Saturday, Oct. 24 for the first day of early voting in the 2020 national election. This is the first time the state has offered in-person voting prior to Election Day in a presidential year.

Saturday, early voters in Penn Yan numbered almost 400, with the line stretching around the Yates County Office Building at 9 a.m. when the polls opened at the Board of Elections office.

By 9 a.m Saturday, the line of voters at the Yates County Office Building on Liberty St. in Penn Yan stretched from the front door all the way around the building to Court Street. 

The Yates County Board of Elections reports that Saturday’s voters totaled 394, and Sunday saw 296. And Monday morning, voters were lining up again in the drizzle, waiting about 30 minutes to cast their votes in person.

Republican Election Commissioner Rob Schwarting says the number of early voters is higher than he expected, and with nearly 700 voters in just the first two days, he expects to lose a gentlemen’s bet with Democratic Commissioner Bob Brechko in the total number of early voters. Schwarting predicted about 1,000 before Election Day, while Brechko predicted it would be double that.

New York’s early voting period runs through Sunday, Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Statewide turnout

Statewide, a total of 211,898 people cast their ballot at early voting sites across the state Saturday, or about 1.7% of the nearly 13 million registered voters statewide, according to the state Board of Elections. The heavy turnout led to large lines in densely populated areas across the state, including in New York City, where some voters waited for two hours or more to cast their ballot. Of the statewide total, 44%—or 93,830 votes—were cast in New York City.

The turnout Saturday nearly outpaced the entire nine-day early voting period in 2019, when 256,251 people cast their ballot. The comparison, however, is far from apples-to-apples: The race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as congressional races across the state, are driving bigger turnout this year, while no statewide or federal races were on the ballot in 2019.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers first approved early voting last year after Democrats took control of the state Senate, giving the party a majority in both houses of the Legislature.

Under state law, every New York county is required to have a minimum of one to seven early voting sites, depending on the number of registered voters. Several larger counties have more than the minimum required, including Erie County with 37 early voting sites, and New York City with 80, where voters are assigned to a particular early voting site. Early voting hours vary by county, though each site is required to be open eight hours each weekday and five hours each day on the weekend during the nine-day period.

By county

Here’s how many ballots were cast in each county on Saturday, Oct. 24 along with the percentage of total registered voters, according to the state Board of Elections:

Albany 3,472 (1.67%)

Allegany 324 (1.23%)

Broome 2,239 (1.71%)

Cattaraugus 711 (1.50%)

Cayuga 1,028 (2.13%)

Chautauqua 1,372 (1.68%)

Chemung 596 (1.11%)

Chenango 314 (1.05%)

Clinton 709 (1.43%)

Columbia 636 (1.35%)

Cortland 433 (1.41%)

Delaware 501 (1.68%)

Dutchess 2,629 (1.34%)

Erie 14,724 (2.31%)

Essex 325 (1.25%)

Franklin 351 (1.27%)

Fulton 380 (1.12%)

Genesee 625 (1.61%)

Greene 290 (0.86%)

Hamilton 82 (1.79%)

Herkimer 579 (1.41%)

Jefferson 572 (0.89%)

Lewis 250 (1.36%)

Livingston 295 (0.70%)

Madison 467 (1.07%)

Monroe 9,503 (1.92%)

Montgomery 369 (1.26%)

Nassau 21,392 (2.05%)

Niagara 2,186 (1.52%)

Oneida 1,482 (1.09%)

Onondaga 5,019 (1.61%)

Ontario 1,222 (1.60%)

Orange 3,313 (1.38%)

Orleans 364 (1.51%)

Oswego 587 (0.74%)

Otsego 544 (1.50%)

Putnam 785 (1.14%)

Rensselaer 1,668 (1.53%)

Rockland 3,248 (1.56%)

Saratoga 1,519 (0.91%)

Schenectady 2,981 (2.89%)

Schoharie 245 (1.19%)

Schuyler 250 (1.97%)

Seneca 382 (1.80%)

St. Lawrence 461 (0.70%)

Steuben 598 (0.98%)

Suffolk 9,617 (0.91%)

Sullivan 751 (1.42%)

Tioga 677 (2.01%)

Tompkins 1,053 (1.71%)

Ulster 1,868 (1.44%)

Warren 521 (1.15%)

Washington 489 (1.34%)

Wayne 446 (0.78%)

Westchester 9,926 (1.56%)

Wyoming 304 (1.23%)

Yates 394 (2.78%)

Bronx 14,928 (1.79%)

Kings (Brooklyn) 29,411 (1.80%)

New York (Manhattan) 19,877 (1.66%)

Queens 19,223 (1.50%)

Richmond 10,391 (3.25%)