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Early voting brings out 4.5% of Erie County registered voters

Michael Mroziak
A voter signs in for early voting.

A lot of Erie County voters took advantage of the new early voting system to cast their ballots before Tuesday's Election Day.

Despite Sunday's gloomy weather and a Buffalo Bills game, 3,600 residents showed up at the 37 early voting sites to cast their ballots.

Credit MIke Desmond / WBFO News

"With the Bills game, we really expected to have a low turnout today," said Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr. "However, what we ended up seeing was that it was the second busiest day of the nine days of early voting and I think that the Sunday availability and the hours that we have done from 12 to 6 p.m. make it very convenient to vote."

Mohr said that brought the total for the nine days to nearly 27,000 voters, or 4.5% of registered voters.

Overall, the nine days went pretty well, even though some sites blacked out for a while during Thursday's storm. The new electronic poll books are battery-powered and generators were brought in.

Mohr said those who voted appeared to track the voter averages. What is not clear until after Tuesday's voting is what it might mean for voter turnout.

"We certainly know that there has been a number of people that have taken advantage of the convenience of the early voting," Mohr said. "Whether these are individuals who would have shown up on Election Day or whether these are new voters, that's still something to be seen."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Voters wait their turn to cast a ballot.

"We're hoping that by expanding it to the 37 locations, like we did in Erie County, which was the largest of any county across the state that, we've attracted new voters and people that normally would not have gone go out on Election Day," Mohr said. "The other effect that we're waiting to see is what impact it would have on absentee ballots."

Mohr said the number of absentee ballots is down in a year with a heavily contested race for county executive, suggesting people who were going out of town and would usually have voted absentee instead voted early.

Chautauqua County Election Commissioners Norman Green and Brian Abram said a total of 3,827 voters out of 76,762 active registered voters in the county cast ballots for the early voting period. Additionally, 982 absentee voters returned ballots of 1,636 sent out. Combined, that equals 6% of all registered voters.

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.
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