by LESLIE HANNON
(ROCHESTER NY)--As the sun broke on a dreary November afternoon, early voting was still going strong in Monroe County. Over 10,000 people cast their ballots Sunday, the last day of early voting in New York State.
Early voting for 2020 has been underway at 12 locations across the county since October 24th. Roughly 83,000 people cast ballots at one of the 8 suburban sites, compared with 22,000 people who cast ballots at the 4 urban sites.
The Irondequoit Public Library polling site saw some of the highest numbers in the county, second only to Perinton Square Mall and North Greece Road Church of Christ.
Registered voters were not required to vote at the polling site closest to their residence.
However, most of the voters we spoke with at the Irondequoit location Sunday mentioned proximity to their homes as the reason for choosing that site to vote early.
But that wasn't universally the case.
When asked why she chose the Irondequoit Public Library site, voter Sarah Tomasello said, “That’s a great question. It’s not even close to my house so I really don’t know. I chose it randomly.”
For voter Tina Washington, it was more about feeling safe. “It’s the library. It’s a safe place.”
Over a thousand voters cast ballots at the Irondequoit site Sunday. The line grew all the way around the building in the last hour but it appeared to move quickly and efficiently.
Of the people we interviewed, time was the most common reason voters chose to come to the polls early.
Voter Matt Henry says, “I work long hours during the week and I’m afraid the poll lines will be too long on actual election day.”
Tomasello says she chose to vote early “because I work a 13 hour shift on [Election Day] at the hospital and there’s no close polling sites there.”
Tina Washington says she went the extra mile to make sure she could vote early in this election.
“I actually looked on the Board of Elections [website] and I didn’t see my name, so I got nervous. I actually went to get my papers stamped this morning so I could get here so I could vote.”
Early voting was first offered to New York residents in the off-year election of 2019 where there were no presidential or congressional races. That election saw record rates of participation, and the option of early voting due to the coronavirus is having the same effect.
Between 9,000 and 14,000 people voted every day throughout early voting in Monroe County this year. 38% of registered voters have already cast ballots, either in-person or through absentee ballots.
Election Day, November 3rd, is the last opportunity to make it to the polls.
Polls in Monroe County are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, but you must vote at your designated neighborhood polling station.
Despite record numbers of early voting across Monroe County and the nation, experts caution that record numbers of mail-in ballots make it unlikely election results will be available on Election Day itself.
LESLIE HANNON is a volunteer reporter for Reclaiming the Narrative. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.