Capital Region

Early votes roll in after weekend election kickoff; More than 20K in Capital Region first two days

STAN HUDY/STAFF WRITERVoters stand on the sidewalk on West High Street and around the corner on McMaster Street in Ballston Spa Sunday afternoon during the second day of early voting in New York State.

Voters stand on the sidewalk on West High Street and around the corner on McMaster Street in Ballston Spa Sunday afternoon during the second day of early voting in New York State.

Over 20,000 Capital Region voters cast ballots in the first two days of early voting this weekend as lines continued outside polling sites on Monday.

The first two days of early voting – the first presidential election with early voting in the state – saw a steady flow of voters and consistent lines across the region, and vote tallies started to climb with seven more days of early voting in the run up to Election Day next week.

“I was joking to people coming in: Is there going to be anyone left to vote on the third?” said Terry Bieniek, a Montgomery County elections commissioner, referring to Nov. 3 Election Day. 

Bieniek said voters have been relatively spread out in the first three days of early voting and that wait lines have clocked in around 20 minutes. The county saw over 700 voters cast ballots over the weekend and had counted around 300 more voters about halfway through polling Monday, Bieniek said. 

In Schenectady County, over 5,400 voters cast ballots at one of the county’s four early voting sites, according to an unofficial vote tally from the state Board of Elections. Nearly 3,000 voters turned out Saturday and just shy of over 2,500 voters came out on Sunday. The votes cast over the weekend represented just over 5 percent of registered voters in the county; county elections officials last week also reported a roughly three-fold increase in the number of absentee ballots requested and returned compared to four years ago. 

In Albany County, more voters turned out to the polls on Sunday than Saturday, with nearly 4,000 votes cast on Sunday alone and over 7,300 votes total in the county for the weekend. 

Statewide over 420,000 New Yorkers cast ballots during the first two days of early voting, with nearly 230,000 of the votes coming from outside New York City.

Lines appeared outside many polling places on Monday, with voters waiting beneath umbrellas or huddled in jackets during light drizzles throughout the day. But elections officials said voters have been largely patient and compliant with social distancing and mask wearing precautions. 

Rural counties, many of which have just one early polling location, saw fewer total early votes, but officials still reported a consistent stream of voters throughout the weekend. Lines stretched outside amid a light and chilly drizzle on Monday at the sole locations in both Fulton and Montgomery counties – which saw 677 and 726 total votes over the weekend, respectively.

Cinda Spraker, a deputy elections commissioner in Fulton County, said wait times over the weekend lasted about an hour and that voters were lining up again on Monday, the first weekday of early voting.

“They are lined up out there right now in the rain with their umbrellas,” Spraker said of the voters outside her office window on Monday, when voting sites in the region opened at noon.

Nearly 550 voters headed to the polls in Schoharie County this weekend, or just under 3 percent of the total number of registered voters in the county.

“Looks like we are going to do more today,” Rich Shultes, a deputy elections commissioner in Schoharie County, said Monday of continued early voting turnout.

Early voting is slated to continue every day through Sunday, with hours differing slightly from day to day. Polls are slated to reopen Tuesday at 9 a.m. and remain open until 5 p.m.; on Wednesday, polls reopen at noon, but will remain open until 8 p.m. On Thursday through Sunday, polls are scheduled to open at 9 a.m., closing at 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and closing at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Voters can use any early voting site within the county where they are registered to vote.

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