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Polls open today in gubernatorial primary

Polls are open today from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for registered Democrat and Republican voters to participate in the June primary for governor.

According to Chautauqua County Republican Election Commissioner Brian Abram, about 900 local voters participated in the nine days of early voting. Polls were open at the fairgrounds in Dunkirk, the Chautauqua Mall, the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown and at the Board of Elections in Mayville.

The fairgrounds was the most used site, similar to past years. Abram believes the north county site is well advertised and easy to access, which helps bring people to the polls.

Democratic Election Commissioner Luz Torres agrees.

“Central Avenue (in Dunkirk) is a very popular place, so you get a lot people and the banners are huge,” she said.

After the fairgrounds, the mall is the second most popular site, followed by the Jackson Center and then the Board of Elections.

Abram also noted that residents in Dunkirk have voted in a closely contested local primary before, so they’re more used to going to the polls there than perhaps voters in the southern end.

“In Jamestown, it will take some time to build up momentum and they’ll need to have a very highly competitive race within the city to probably get that site to jump start,” he said.

For today, registered Democrats will vote for their choice for governor and lieutenant governor. For governor, the candidates are Thomas R. Suozzi, Kathy Hochul and Jumaane D. Williams. For lieutenant governor, the candidates are Ana Maria Archila, Diana Reyna and Antonio Delgado.

See POLLS, Page A3

For registered Republican voters, there are no candidates on the ballot for lieutenant governor, only governor. The individuals running for governor on the GOP side are Rob Astorino, Andrew Giullani, Harry Wilson and Lee Zeldin.

The Working Families’ endorsed gubernatorial candidate is Williams and the Conservative Party’s endorsed candidate is Zeldin. Should either lose in their respective primary, Torres said a change in election law will permit them to decline the minor party’s nomination if they want.

“The new election law states that … ‘a candidate designated for two or more party nominations for an office to be filled at the time of a general election who is not nominated of one or more such parties may decline the nomination of one or more parties not later than 10 days after the Primary Election,'” she said.

In the past, if a minor party endorsed a candidate, that person’s name could not be removed from the ballot unless he/she was appointed as a judge.

Both Torres and Abram predict light voter turnout today. “We feel it will be a very long day with probably low results,” Abram said. “If early voting is any indication — it’s just Democrats and Republicans — a low percentage of them will participate. We’re hoping for numbers but we are realistic. It’s just the governor’s race on both sides of the aisle and lieutenant governor on the Democratic side. It isn’t generating a lot of buzz, if you will. It isn’t getting that energy that some races can and do get.”

Abram actually expects an even lower turnout Aug. 23 when local residents will head to the polls to fill the congressional seat vacated by Tom Reed, as well as vote in the primary for candidates running for the newly drawn 23rd Congressional District, which will go into effect Jan. 1.

“We normally don’t have any elections in August. … You’ve got people taking their college age students back to college at that time. You’ve got schools kind of ramping up, you have a totally different mindset with school and colleges and end of summer ‘get your vacation in’ kind of moments for voters. I think it’s going to be a difficult time,” he said.

Every registered voter will be permitted to vote in the special election. Torres said there won’t be a primary on the Democratic side. Abram said there will be a congressional primary for registered Republicans, but he can’t say yet who will be on the ballot.

The ballot for the August primary will need to be finalized by July 8. “Will we have it done prior to that? Yes, but exactly what date that is, we’re not sure yet,” Abram said.

Aug. 23 is also the date for any primaries for state senate, but Torres and Abram both said there will not be any local primaries this year for that office.

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