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Voter registration up in Monroe County, higher turnout expected 

click to enlarge PHOTO CREDIT JAMES BROWN, WXXI NEWS
  • PHOTO CREDIT JAMES BROWN, WXXI NEWS
During a news conference Friday, Board of elections officials said there are 25,000 new voter registrations in Monroe County so far this year. Democratic Board Elections Commissioner Jackie Ortiz said the new voters mean higher turnout expectations.

“We anticipate somewhere between 80 and 85 percent.” said Ortiz. She said the last presidential election turnout was 76 percent.

There are also changes to when absentee ballots can be counted. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order allowing anyone to vote by absentee due to the Covid-19 pandemic instructs county Board of Elections officials to start counting “as soon as practicable.” That means counties don’t need to wait the standard two weeks to start counting absentee ballots anymore.

Deputy Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Nancy Leven says they expect to start counting the Monday or Tuesday after election day.

94,000 absentee ballots have been requested. So far a little over half have been processed.

New Deputy Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Natalie Sheppard said it's been difficult to keep up with the demand, upwards of a thousand people a day are applying for the ballots. She said workers at the Monroe County Board of Elections are processing absentee ballot requests seven days a week.

“That’s why we have to have a lot of people processing this so we can keep up with the timeline,” said Sheppard.

The board of elections also announced a number of new polling locations including some larger ones to alleviate concerns about social distancing. They are updating their training and adding workers to handle high traffic and lower confusion. All were problems during the primaries in June.

Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay said a couple hundred registered Republicans are needed to balance out the elections inspector staff. State law requires that each ballot be inspected by a Republican and a Democrat on election day.

“The only thing you have to be is willing to work a very long day,” said Nicolay. “It’s from 5:30am to about 10pm on election day.”

All the democratic party’s spots are taken.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is encouraging unemployed New Yorkers to fill elections inspectors spots, he says that income will not impact unemployment payments.

Early voting starts October 24th. Election day is November 3rd. You can find voter information here.

James Brown is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at jbrown@wxxi.org.
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