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40K absentee ballot requests and counting at the Erie County BOE

Erie County

Absentee ballot requests are piling up at the Erie County Board of Elections with Election Day eight weeks away. Already, there have been nearly 40,000.

The board had planned to start mailing absentee ballots Thursday, but that was delayed by the State Board of Elections, which didn't approve what is to be on the ballot until Wednesday. Now it's the process of designing the ballots and getting them to the board print shop.

It is a very complicated process to send out absentee ballots and that is why the board ordered 900,000 envelopes, since each ballot needs three envelopes when it goes out: a mailing label to the voter, an envelope to return the ballot and the actual envelope holding the ballot.

"There's multiple different ballot styles and as soon as Commissioner Mohr and I can meet and agree and proof them and have our teams proof them, we'll start beginning to print, hopefully as early as Monday," said Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner.

With an avalanche of absentee requests expected, Zellner said he is expecting workers will be at the board seven days a week processing those absentee ballots.

"There's no question that we plan on working seven days a week, pretty much from here on out," he said. "Our staff had to do that before the Primary Election in June and our staff is going to be overloaded with work moving forward. It's going to be a lot simpler than it was in June, however. Back then, we had three elections to run and we won't have that many separate ballots and separate elections to deal with."


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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