Early voting: What to know going into the historic election season

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR – TV) — Starting on Saturday morning, New Yorkers will have the chance for the first time ever to cast their ballots before Election Day.

The nine-day early voting period will extend from Saturday, October 26th through Sunday, November 3rd. The results of the early voting period will be announced after 9 p.m. on the night of November 5th.

For Onondaga County, polls open at 9 a.m. Saturday at six different polling sites.

New York is the 39th state to put this early voting in place. The voting reform legislation was passed on the first day of the January session this year and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Not only is this the first time the state has had early voting, but it is also the first time it’s been paid for by the state, from technology costs to operation, which is something Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says shouldn’t be glossed over.

“I’ve testified a few times in Albany about making sure that the state helps these counties pay for this reform, because it’s a vital reform. We don’t want counties doing the bare minimum just because of the dollar amount.”

Dustin Czarny
Democratic Elections Commissioner, Onondaga County

The switch to electronic poll books is also a game-changer this election season, getting rid of those large, paper ledgers. Voters will sign in on iPads, which will find their ballot for where the voter lives, and print it out automatically.

Voters then fill out the bubble sheet as usual, and scan their ballot before leaving. These results are sent via individual cellular networks and collected.

The electronic switch has many worried about the security of the elections, citing vote fraud and technical glitches, but the county says they’ve put safeguards in place to help ensure a secure and efficient election.

“We have a second server that is segregated that never talks to the internet that all of our original data is on. So even if the system got compromised in any way, we would have that other data. We also have paper back ups in every poll site, just in case there’s a major power outage, or something like that, so we’re ready for any event.”

Dustin Czarny
Democratic Elections Commissioner, Onondaga County

Onondaga County says the switch to electronic poll books also makes elections greener and more cost-effective, saving the county $10,000 to $30,000 per election.

This electronic poll booking will also be used in the general election on November 5th.

Those participating in early voting are required to vote at their designated polling sites in their county.

The number of polling sites varies per county. The law requires there to be a poll station per 50,000 voters, however, some counties with lower, more spread-out populations have gone past this minimum.

There will be no early voting for the June primaries.

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