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Congressional primary breaks Onondaga County's record for early voting in a primary

Signs direct residents to polling places in Onondaga County
Signs direct residents to polling places in Onondaga County

Nearly 4,200 enrolled Democrats and Republicans cast ballots in Onondaga County for the 22nd District Congressional Primary during the nine days of early voting that ended Sunday. That’s the largest early voting turnout for a primary by far, surpassing the previous record of about 2,700 set during the June primary for governor.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said he actually expected to see a lower turnout this time, which has been the case across the state.

"In Onondaga County, we seem to be an outlier where more people are voting in early voting and I don't know what it indicates. I don't know if it's going to mean lower turnout for the primary or are people choosing to vote early as part of the convenience of voting early because August is particularly busy with recreational activities," Czarny said.

Czarny said early voting seems to be catching on, judging by the raw numbers and the percentage of the electorate casting their votes. He said as has been the trend, far more Democrats took advantage of early voting than Republicans, but the gap seems to be closing ever so slightly.

"Usually it's around 3 to 1, it was slightly less it was like 2.7 to 1, which meant more Republicans are starting to use this option as well and when we open congressional races on both sides, you can see that there was a lot of participation in trying to drive their voters," Czarny said.

The end of early voting means Tuesday is the final chance for party faithful to cast their ballots at their regular polling places. It also means the marathon continues for election commissioners and their staff.

"We have our 17-hour day and then when we get done with that at midnight we're back in the office at 8 a.m. the next day to start receiving all the stuff back and getting ready for the post-election work. So, I think it consists of 33 of the next 56 hours we're actually working. So, you know, if you do the math in that time period we're either working or sleeping," Czarny said.

He said many staffers canceled vacation plans so they could be available to help with this primary. You may recall the August primary date was set by a judge in May, creating chaos and confusion for voters and boards of elections statewide.

Polls are open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Voters with questions can go to or call 435-VOTE.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at