MonroeCounty.gov; Cheryl Dinolfo, County Executive

Early Voting

Early Voting Comes to New York State

 

The 2019 General Election was the first time New Yorkers experienced Early Voting.  Early Voting was available to all voters in Monroe County.  Early Voting centers were open beginning on October 26, 2019 and were open daily through November 3, 2019 with the hours varying day to day.  There were seven voting centers in Monroe County this year.  Additional Early Voting centers might be added in the future.  Each year voting patterns will be evaluated and adjustments made to further accommodate voters.  Voters were able to choose to vote at any site in the county.  Voters could choose to vote at an Early Voting center near their workplace or school instead of near their home.  The seven centers were located across Monroe County based on population.  These centers needed to be much larger than most Election Day district polling sites.  Since this is the first year of Early Voting, we had no previous history of voter patterns to draw on.  We attempted to make each site flexible enough to accommodate larger or smaller numbers of voters as needed during the nine-day period.  New York State Board of Elections detailed regulations that provided guidelines on how the process worked.

You saw new equipment at the Early Voting centers.  Electronic Poll Books (E-Poll Books) were necessary to make sure voters could only vote once.  You were not able to go to another center and cast a ballot nor go to your district site on Election Day.  The E-Poll Books communicated via a secure network connection and only transmited non-personal information to update files.  Based on where a voter lives, the E-Poll Books made sure each voter was given a ballot containing only the candidates to vote for in their district.  The ballots resembled ballots used at district polling sites for the past ten years.  Voters completed their ballot and scanned it through our regular scanners that are currently in use.  Additionally, ballot marking devices for voters who required assistance marking their ballot, along with well trained staff, were available at all sites.

The legislation that was passed to implement Early Voting and provide for the use of E-Poll Books has several voter protections attached to it.  The State Board’s detailed regulations built on those protections to make sure New York’s elections remain as secure as they always have been.  New York is recognized for its extensive procedures that ensure every vote is counted and counted accurately.

None of the votes cast at an Early Voting center will be counted until Election Day.  Standards for protecting ballots and memory cards are extensive.  A daily audit of each Early Voting center was required to establish and ensure that records of both blank and cast ballots matched the number of voters that used a center daily.

Affidavits (provisional ballots) available on Election Day were also available at Early Voting centers to make sure everyone got to complete a ballot even if for some reason they were not in our files.  Early Voting centers function much like a normal polling site on Election Day but with more staff and heightened expertise.

Tracking of the number of voters and any wait times at each center will be important as we develop extensive information on voter patterns.  It will take time to learn which centers voters use and where they are coming from.  At first, some centers were overwhelmed and others under utilized.  Voters have every right to expect a quick and efficient experience at each site. 

We are excited with this major change in how people vote in our community.  We  hoped it would provide for a better voter experience and greater turnout, giving voters more options when and where they could vote.

 

 

 

 

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