PLATTSBURGH — Overall, New York state's first period of early voting ran smoothly in the tri-county area.
Clinton County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Greg Campbell commented that voters loved the new KNOWiNK Poll Pad system, whereby they are processed using iPads instead of the traditional paper poll book system.
"It was very easy and quick and there was no confusion over what district they were in, which is great considering there are 51 districts," Campbell said.
In Clinton County, 749 people — plus about another five who submitted affidavit ballots — out of 46,652 registered voters showed up for early voting, Campbell said.
That makes for about 1.6 percent participation.
Campbell said they heard comments that people thought the early voting was only for city residents, not everyone in the county.
"So it’s going to be more of an education process that we have to keep working on.
"What you don’t know at this point is how many of those folks would have gone to the polls anyway on Election Day," he added.
"But this makes it more convenient for them so it’ll be interesting to see, as we go along, do our overall numbers actually increase or is it just a matter of we’re making it more convenient to vote on more days?"
Campbell commended election staff for the weekend and evening hours they worked on top of preparing for the general election.
"We’re very pleased with the effort that they put in and everything just came together great."
In Essex County, 294 people out of 24,148 registered voters — or about 1.2 percent — opted for early voting.
On Friday, voting was canceled due to the countywide state of emergency brought by flooding and high winds.
But that did not seem to negatively impact Saturday or Sunday's numbers, Campbell's Essex County counterpart, Allison McGahay, said.
"Our average for each day was about 35 to 45 voters and when we reopened the polls on Saturday, Nov. 2, we got 43 voters which was right on par with what we had been seeing."
Additionally, all of the poll inspectors showed up Saturday despite the remaining road closures.
McGahay said, as a polling site, the Essex County Public Safety Building had great parking and lighting and was both handicap accessible and easily navigable.
PAPER POLL BOOKS
Unlike Clinton County, Essex County has not purchased an electronic poll book system for voter processing.
Instead, they sent all the voting districts' paper poll books to the early voting site, and people signed in using the traditional method.
"Each of those 42 poll books are now being distributed to the poll sites for tomorrow," McGahay said Monday.
"If someone showed up at the poll site tomorrow who had already voted at early voting, their signature next to their name is going to already be in that poll book so our poll inspectors will know that they’ve already voted."
McGahay said the State Board has reached out to all the counties and plans to meet with them after the election to discuss any possible changes based upon what they have learned.
"We’ll get that opportunity to provide some feedback."
In Franklin County, 328 — about 1.3 percent — of the roughly 25,000 registered voters participated in early voting.
County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Brandon Varin said it was well-received.
"This is new, so we’re hoping that next year that turnout will increase."
Like Clinton County, Franklin County opted to implement the electronic poll book system.
"We didn’t have any hiccups this year with the electronic poll books. It all worked out well."
Varin and his Republican counterpart, Tracy Sparks, will sit down to discuss any changes that may need to be made in the future.
According to a press release from the State Board of Elections, more than 256,000 people voted statewide, making for an approximate 1.9 percent turnout statewide.
“With nothing to compare it to, we don’t know yet if that is high or low," State Board Co-Executive Director Todd Valentine said.
"After the election, we will get together with our local commissioners, vendors and other stakeholders and review everything."
The State Legislature passed early voting for the first time in January.
In 2020, early voting will be available for nine days prior to each of the following elections: the presidential primary on April 28; the state and federal primary on June 23 and the general election on Nov. 3.
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