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Election Commissioners report strong turnout

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

In Yates County 8,891 voters cast ballots in person either in early voting at the Yates County Office Building, or on Election Day at one of the 18 polling sites. Of that number, 5,929 voted in person on Election Day.

As of Friday, The Yates County Board of Elections had received 1,769 absentee ballots. “They will continue to dribble in until Tuesday, Nov. 10,” said Election Commissioners Rob Schwarting and Bob Brechko. Earlier totals should underestimate the numbers of absentees actually in hand, and some of the absentee ballots will be pulled from the process because the voter went to the poll and voted in person. There are also 104 provisional or affidavit ballots to evaluated and counted if found to be valid. The Commissioners will be opening and casting the approximately 2,000 ballots starting Wednesday morning.

The approximately 5,000 voters who chose to vote early or by absentee ballot took a good deal of the pressure off poll workers on Election Day Nov. 3 at Penn Yan Academy.

Voter Turnout

The commissioners report the volume of voters at the poll sites this year was “high and steady.” Waits averaged under 30 minutes, except in the town of Starkey where turnout has been the strongest in recent years. The longest wait was on the first day of Early Voting when voters started lining up 70 minutes before the poll opened. 

“Typically, voters in Yates seldom had wait times over 10 minutes,” say the Commissioners. This year it was longer for several reasons. Many voters who showed up at the polls had not voted in years and had one of many irregularities in their registration file. (They had moved, they had changed their last name, they were inactivated because the Board of Elections lost contact with them, or because their voting registration attempted through the Department of Motor Vehicles had failed.) 

“Resolving these problems slowed down the voter check-in process,” say the Commissioners. “Fortunately, the Electronic Poll Books made many of the corrections easier and accomplishing right at the poll site.”

The judges of the 7th Judicial District and County Judge Jason Cook handled a record number of exceptions and enrolled 41 new voters through the court-ordered registration process in Yates County.

National strife not seen here

In contrast to the national atmosphere leading up to the presidential election, the Commissioners report the mood among voters at the polls in Yates County was very congenial. 

“There were less than a handful of angry or upset voters who objected to using the COVID-19 protection measures or were inadequate or thought that the poll inspectors could have done something better,” stated Schwarting and Brechko. “More than ever, voters were thanking the poll inspectors for being there year after year and doing their part for maintaining democracy.” 

The Commissioners expressed deep appreciation for the voters in Yates County for their participation in this year’s election and are grateful for the voters’ patience and understanding. 

“We have great people in Yates County – everyone from all the parties. They didn’t succumb to the anger and hype displayed in the national media,” say the Commissioners.

At the Board of Elections Office, however, the story was a little different.

“Staff were constantly handling calls from concerned voters who were trying to verify that their vote was counted or received. Many needed assurances that processes in N.Y. or Yates County were not subjected to the problems reported in other states,” say the Commissioners.

“Unfortunately for many, information in the national media gave them incorrect information which made it difficult for them to understand or accept the information provided by the Board’s staff.” 

Both Commissioners Schwarting and Brechko again praised and complimented the dedication of the poll inspectors and staff. “These workers this year came out in spite of the pandemic. They adjusted to a myriad of changes in the voting flawlessly and maintained a congenial, helpful, and accommodating environment at the polls. They were able to reduce anxiety through their professionalism.“ Both commissioners expressed their appreciation for the 25 new poll inspectors who came out to replace those poll inspectors who had to withdrawn because of the pandemic.

Not a record turnout

Small records were made, but the overall record of voter turnout was not shattered; 78% versus 85%. Many expected a record-making turnout because there were 10 days to vote and that the stringent rules of obtaining an absentee ballot had been relaxed. Early voting turnout was five times greater than last year. New enrollment statistics were similar to other presidential election years, but absentee ballots exceeded record years by another 70%. 

According to Former County Historian Fran Dumas, predominantly Republican Yates County has not swung to a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas less than a year before.

2020 Yates County Results

President/Vice President of the U.S.A.

Joseph R. Biden/Kamala D. Harris (DEM, WF) 3,046 = 34.46%

Donald J. Trump/Michael R. Pence (REP, CON) 5,552 = 62.81%

Howie Hawkins/Angela Nicole Walker (GRN) 32 = 0.36%

Jo Jorgensen/Jeremy Cohen (LBT) 143 = 1.62%

Brock Pierce/Karla Ballard (IND) 44 = 0.50%

Write-in 23 = 0.26%

Total 8,840 

Representative of the 23rd U.S. Congressional District

Tracy Mitrano (DEM, WF) 2,901 = 33.61%

Tom Reed (REP, CON, IND) 5,673 = 65.73%

Andrew M Kolstee (LBT) 55 = 0.64%

Write-in 2 = 0.02%

Total 8,631

Justice of the Supreme Court (four seats)

Gino M Nitti (DEM) 2,102 = 7.23%

William T Gargan (DEM) 1,986 = 6.83%

Julia A Cianca (DEM, WF) 2,460 = 8.46%

Stephen K Lindley (DEM, REP, CON, WF, IND) 6,743 = 23.19%

Dan Doyle (REP, CON, WF, IND) 5,841 = 20.09%

Sam L Valleriani (REP, CON, WF, IND) 5,010 = 17.23%

Vince Dinolfo (REP, CON, IND) 4,930 = 16.95%

Write-in 6 = 0.02%

Total 29,078

State Senator for the 58th NY Senate District

Leslie Danks Burke (DEM, WF, REF) 2,660 = 31.58%

Thomas F O’Mara (REP, CON, IND) 5,764 = 68.42%

Write-in 0

Total 8,424

Member of Assembly for the 132nd N.Y. Assembly District (unopposed)

Philip A Palmesano (REP, CON, IND) 6,671 = 99.85%

Write-in = 10 0.15%

Total 6,681

Yates County Coroner (unopposed):

Ronald Dailey (REP) 6,517 = 99.65%

Write-in 23 = 0.35%

Total 6,540

Jerusalem Town Council

K. Dixon Zorovich (DEM) 533 = 32.86%

Ritchie Lent (REP) 1,086 = 66.95%

Write-in 3 = 0.18%

Total 1,622 

Proposition 1; Extending the terms for Yates County Legislators from two years to four years in staggered terms

YES 4,399 = 54.35%

NO 3,695 = 45.65%

Total 8,094

Proposition 2; Establishing the appointed office of Director of Finance for Yates County

YES 4,299 = 54.38%

NO 3,606 = 45.62%

Total 7,905

(Unofficial report by Yates County Board of Elections; official results to be updated after Nov. 11.)