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Erie County Board of Elections predicting 26,000 absentee ballots

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With Election Day getting closer, the Erie County Board of Elections is dealing with an avalanche of absentee ballot applications and the problems of getting absentee ballots to the military overseas because of problems in Albany.

County Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr tells WBFO News there may be as many as 26,000 absentee ballots going out by the end of the elections season. 

Mohr said they don't appear to be grouped in any one place, like the hard-fought race in the 27th Congressional District between Representative Kathy Hochul and former Erie County Executive Chris Collins.

The big problem has been getting absentee ballots to the military because Albany allowed a September primary for the State Legislature butting up against the requirement for military ballots to go out at least 45 days before the election for federal races.

That meant there had to be a separate ballot sent to the military for local races. Mohr said he learned of problems personally by text message from his West Point cadet son who couldn't download his local ballot.

"I've been trying it, I can't download my local ballot. I only get the federal offices.  Part of the problem that we discovered is that the state hadn't notified the military and the overseas voters that when they could download their ballot, they would be receiving two," said Mohr.

Voters who aren't overseas military will get a single ballot for both federal and local races but they are going out slowly.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.