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Early voting in Erie County hits 40%, 80% overall turnout possible

Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Early voters in Cheektowaga last week.

Voters are clearly excited about this presidential election, as they vote early in person or by mail. Nearly 40% of voters in Erie County have already cast their ballots. There still may be a major turnout in what's expected to be rotten weather Tuesday.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner said the expectation is that the final turnout might approach 80% of the 630,000 registered voters. He doesn't know what is the highest turnout on record in the county, but last year, nearly 27,000 residents voted early.

Zellner said this year's presidential election elevated that well beyond anyone's expectation.

"So far, we're pushing 40% turnout of the total vote at this point," he said. "The 167,000-plus voters who voted early this year, compared to the 26,000 last year, they really did a great job. I'm so proud of our staff and the inspectors who are out there working so hard every day under the toughest, toughest circumstances."

On top of that, 76,000 mail-in ballots of the 95,000 applications are already in hand. Across New York State, more than 2 million early votes have been cast.

Zellner said he still expects some lines Tuesday.

"It's going to be busy and it's going to be a busy election day because of the turnout. It's going to be great," he said.

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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