This is the first year voters will be allowed to cast ballots early in a presidential election. It’s a welcome expansion of the democratic process, especially in an era of face coverings and social distancing.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is an anticipated record turnout at the early polls as predicted by election officials in Greene and Columbia counties. A new mark could be set by the accessibility of three options for voting early this year and it is possible the sheer number of votes to be counted will overwhelm the system.

But let’s focus on the good news.

“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 Tuesday. “That might just work out better for people than doing it on Election Day.”

Dow’s Republican counterpart in Greene County, Elections Commissioner Brent Bogardus, agrees.

“I think it’s a personal decision for voters. They have a variety of methods in which they can vote,” Bogardus said Tuesday. “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.”

Voters are taking to early balloting, if last year’s turnout is any indication. According to the Vote Early NY web page, 638 people voted early in Greene County and 3,371 early voters went to the polls in Columbia County.

If that sounds low, view it this way: Just over 4,000 voters took advantage of early voting mainly for local elections. And remember this: Every vote counts, even early ones.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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