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Local turnout high for key New York primary

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New York’s presidential primary is in the political spotlight Tuesday. The Erie County Board of Elections says local voting has run smoothly and voter turnout appears to be its highest in years.Extra absentee ballots have been issued to several polling locations. Democratic Elections Commissioner Len Lenihan says other parts of the state are having more problems than Erie County.

“There’s always going to be a problem here and there. The good news is, our system is operating very efficiently and effectively. We’ve got 335 locations throughout the county today so voting is very smooth. People do not have to worry about long lines. The equipment, in 99.9% of the cases, is working just fine,” Lenihan told WBFO.

There have been a couple of complaints related to scanners and one startup problem. Lenihan says there is a process in place in case voters run into problems.

“First the inspectors will probably say, ‘We’ll give you an affidavit ballot.’ If not, then you ask for one. An affidavit ballot, sometimes the people’s names are not in the poll book, or if the voting machine is problematic, we give them an affidavit and we simply count them after the booths are closed on election night,” Lenihan said.

Lenihan says voters can call in to phone banks if they have any questions or complaints. He says he expects a larger turnout than the 2008 primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“One of the barometers that we have here is the number of absentee ballots that are requested. In 2008, we sent out about 8,500 absentee ballots. Today we have sent out just under 10,000. That sort of gages a voters interest in this race,” he added.

Polls are open until 9 p.m.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.