Local election officials have 10 days to get ready for early voting in the Twin Counties and the race is on as forecasts call for a record turnout.
New Yorkers have the option to vote early for the first time in a presidential election starting Oct. 24.
“It’s primarily a matter of convenience. People have nine days where they can come in at their convenience and cast their vote on the machine,” Columbia County Democratic Election Commissioner Ken Dow said. “That might just work out better for people than doing it on Election Day.”
Dow said early voting results are included with Election Day tallies. Those numbers are released after they are tabulated on election night. Absentee votes are counted over the next several days after Election Day.
Voters have the option of casting ballots 10 days prior to the Nov. 3 election. Early voting hours differ from normal Election Day hours.
Registered voters can go to their early voting polling place during open hours and cast their ballot. Early voting in Columbia County will take place at 401 State St., Hudson, at any of the following times: Oct. 24 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Oct. 26, noon-8 p.m.; Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 28, noon-8 p.m.; Oct. 29, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Nov. 1 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Anyone who is registered to vote in Greene County can vote early at the Greene County Office Building, 4th floor, Suite 430, 411 Main St., Catskill, at the following times; Oct. 24 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Oct. 26, noon-8 p.m.; Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 28, noon-8 p.m.; Oct. 29, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; and Nov. 1, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
“I think it’s a personal decision for voters. They have a variety of methods in which they can vote,” Greene County Republican Election Commissioner Brent Bogardus said. “Early voting and absentee voting give voters more options, especially if they are going to be away, or leaving. It’s a personal decision: What works best for them.”
Bogardus said this year will likely have a high voter turnout in all three methods of voting. He said the highest voter turnouts occur in even-numbered election years because they feature bigger races.
“This year I think we’re going to see record turnout, just given the animosity that exists in the world and in both parties. I think it’s going to be a high turnout all around,” Bogardus said.
Early voting is a relatively new option for New York voters. In January 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a series of mandates on voter law, one of which allows voters to cast their ballots before Election Day. The state requires each county board of elections to have at least one early voting site available for voters.
Dow said voting early does not necessarily mean there will be shorter lines than on Election Day.
Without an election to compare to this year, it is difficult to predict how many people will vote early, Dow said.
Instructions will be available at early voting sites so people can become familiar with the ballot.
Columbia County Republican Election Commissioner Kelly Miller-Simmons said similar to Election Day, an early voter can ask an election inspector to explain how to fill out their ballot or for other assistance.
The Vote Early NY web page lists that in 2019, 638 people voted early in Greene County and 3,371 early voters went to the polls in Columbia County.
The number of early voters is expected to increase this year because more voters typically turnout for presidential elections.
Voting early differs from voting by absentee ballot. Early voting and voting with an absentee ballot can take place prior to Election Day, but with absentee voting a person uses an absentee ballot to cast their vote. They have to apply for an absentee ballot with an application.
With early voting, a person can physically go to the polling place, in person, and fill out a ballot the same as they would on Election Day. All registered voters can vote early at their designated polling place during voting hours.
Early voters do not vote a second time on Election Day. Each registered voter can vote only once.