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Chautauqua among tops for early voting in NY

There was some success locally in regard to early voting.

Chautauqua County Election Commissioners Norman P. Green and Brian C. Abram announced late Sunday that a total of 3,827 voters out of 76,762 active registered voters in the county cast ballots during the period that ran from Oct. 26 through Sunday. Additionally, 982 absentee voters have returned ballots of 1,636 sent out. A total of 6% of all registered voters cast ballots early or voted by absentee.

Those numbers were among the highest in New York state. With nearly 5% of all active voters casting ballots early in the county, only Ulster and Columbia counties had an higher percentage of voter participation. Chautauqua County narrowly edged out neighboring Erie County in early voter participation and doubled the voter turnout percentage of neighboring Cattaraugus County.

Green and Abram are attributing the heavy turnout to the mayors races in Jamestown, Dunkirk and Fredonia, the town supervisors races in Pomfret and Busti, and the special election for New York state Senate.

However, Green and Abram are predicting a 25,000 voter turnout for the 2019 General Election and if the prognostication is accurate, 19% of county voters will have cast ballots before the normal opening of polls today. Another 47 citizens cast provisional affidavit ballots at the early voting sites because they moved or were not in the poll book due to the election office having mail returned to its office when the post office attempted delivery to the voter.

Just 19,949 voters cast ballots in the corresponding 2015 General Election period four years ago.

According to the Associated Press, more than 256,000 people cast their ballots before Election Day statewide between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3 under New York’s new early voting law.

Data suggest unofficial turnout was roughly 1% in New York City and 2% outside the city.

The election took Monday off before voters return for a final, full day of balloting today.

New York is rolling out its new system in a quiet election year, ahead of the 2020 presidential contest.

It’s too soon to know what impact early voting will have on turnout. Some experts say early voting could be just another option for voters who otherwise would have turned out on Election Day.

In Chautauqua County, polls will be open the normal 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. today. The busiest times to avoid will be Noon to 1 p.m. and in the evening during the dinner hour. All county poll sites will be open.

Voters who have not moved will vote at the same site as last year except that West Ellicott and Celoron voters are now voting at the Resource Center, rear entrance, 200 Dunham Ave., Celoron. Any voter who cast a ballot early will be prevented from voting on Tuesday.

Any New York state citizen at least age 18 at the date of the General Election who previously registered is eligible to vote.

If a voter registered previously anywhere in New York state and is in current active or inactive voter registration status anywhere in New York state and failed to notify the Board of Elections, the voter may go to his or her new polling place on Election Day to fill out a provisional affidavit ballot that will be counted along with absentees after Election Day, once the voter is proven to be eligible.

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