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Party leaders make final push to get out the vote

WBFO's Mike Desmond

Election day is less than 24 hours away. As tens of millions of voters stream to the polls, millions more have already cast their ballots in one of the nastiest presidential races in American history. In Erie County, Democrats and Republicans are making their final pushes.

The political foot soldiers who make elections work are tired by now, a long presidential campaign and three primary elections have wound them down. That is why Governor Andrew Cuomo was in town Sunday for a mass get-out-the-vote rally in Democratic headquarters.

Republicans held a similar rally on Saturday in campaign headquarters in Clarence.

"The way our ballot is set up, the way people come and in and habitually vote, it's very rare that they vote for president and leave," Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said. "On the lever machines, it was much more of a reality because there was pressure, you were in line, there were people behind you. Now you have your own place to sit, take your time to vote. It's a much more relaxed environment than it was in the era of just two lever machines."

Phone banks are full and workers for both major parties are knocking on doors, identifying those they want to help get to the polls and those who will vote for their candidates. Langworthy said Donald Trump supporters are there.

"As we've encountered people, registered people, people have contacted us through the website wanting to get involved with Donald Trump. We've been certainly communicated directly with the Trump campaign on data," said Langworthy. "We have a vast amount of data that shows us there is a great crossover appeal, there's a lot of supporters that aren't members of the Republican party and we're turning them out for Donald Trump."

Langworthy said he expects these Trump supporters will continue their ballpoint pen marks across the ballot for other Republicans, potentially key in the tight District Attorney race between John Flynn and Joe Treanor and in legislative and judicial races.

Speaking to Democratic activists in headquarters Sunday, Governor Cuomo called on party faithful to make that one last strong push.

"We're going to get out there. We're going to be on the phones. We're going to drive people to the polls. We're going to knock on those doors and knock on those doors. We're going to knock for opportunity. We're going to knock for decency. We're going to knock for the middle class. We're going to knock for working families. We're going to knock for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party and that whole ballot from the top to the bottom," Cuomo said.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was part of the packed, intense rally in Democratic headquarters. Hochul said there should be a big turnout Tuesday.

"There better be - and I'll tell you why," Hochul said. "I have been to places in this world where they so envy the right that we take for granted in this country and that's to be able to have free elections, the right to go to a polling place to cast a ballot without fear of your life. And so, in respect to all those veterans we still have with us and the people in the military who have gone before, every American owes it to them."

Langworthy and Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner said their efforts will continue until 9 p.m. Tuesday, when the polls close.

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.