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Election Day 2017 in Western New York

With no major party opposition, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is expected to cruise to victory in Tuesday's election. However, the lack of a big citywide race in Buffalo could impact Erie County races.

Election Day across Western New York is a busy day at the Erie County Board of Elections, but it is not expected to be busy at the polls. Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr tells WBFO that four years ago, turnout for mid-term elections was 31 percent and he is expecting about the same this year.

"Now that 31 percent won't be equal across the county," Mohr says. "There are some municipalities that have hotly contested Board seats and you'll see higher turnout in those areas than, say, in the City of Buffalo where a lot of the races were determined with the primary in September."

Mohr says it is disappointing that the Board of Elections has tried a number of initiatives to increase voter turnout, but the numbers continue to steadily decrease.

Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 130,000 in Erie County. But low turnout in the city could benefit Republicans who tend to have stronger appeal in the suburbs, where turnout is generally stronger.

Buffalo State College Professor Fred Floss says an important thing for voters to remember is one seat could change control of the County Legislature. And with changes to healthcare looming at the federal and state level, Floss says the Legislature may have some tough decisions to make.  

In the County Comptroller's race, Democrat Vanessa Glushefski is taking on incumbent Stefan Mychajliw, while Assemblymember Michael Kearns, a Democrat, is the endorsed Republican in the County Clerk's race against Democrat Steve Cichon.

Incumbent Sheriff Timothy Howard is facing Democrat Bernie Tolbert and Floss says, given their very different views, it is another important race.     

Floss agrees with Mohr that there also are a lot of important municipal races that can have a big impact at the local level. He says people should get and vote because there is no excuse for having a low turnout.

Mohr also reminds voters that they will see a two-sided ballot this year, with candidates on the front and three state ballot propositions on the back. In Evans, there also will be a fourth local proposition. Mohr says he expects the two-sided paper ballot to actually increase the number of votes cast for the propositions.

Mohr suggests any problems regarding Tuesday's election should be directed to the voter's Board of Elections.

WBFO will host election night coverage Tuesday night. News Director Brian Meyer and Host Mark Scott will be in-studio providing results and perspective, while a team of WBFO reporters will gather reaction at Democratic and Republican watch parties.

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