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Onondaga County Voters To See More Early Voting Sites, Changes To Absentee Ballot Process

Voters in Onondaga County and across the state can expect some big changes to early and absentee voting next year after Governor Kathy Hochul signed four reform measures Thursday. County democratic elections commissioner Dustin Czarny says one of them drops the population threshold for early voting sites, meaning there will be four more.

"We've had six each of the last three years. As you know, I've advocated for more. Now, the bare minimum will be 10 sites, which many of us have been advocating for in Onondaga County."

Czarny and his republican counterpart Michele Sardo will determine the locations, with state guidance on commuter travel, population density, and public transportation.

Another measure will change the way absentee ballots are counted.

"Absentee will be reported with the early voting and election day votes on election night. No longer will we have this two week wait. Also, ballots will no longer be subject to these ridiculous challenges from outside parties. Now, the boards of elections will be solely responsible for determining the validity of ballots. If we say they count, they count."

For example, Czarny says gone will be the days of challenges to signature verification which he says needlessly held up 2020 results.

A third bill allows absentee voters to quickly apply for a ballot using the state’s portal, which will be made permanent.

And, Czarny says, a fourth bill establishes a new absentee ballot tracker so voters can follow the process from application to the scanning machine.

"This will allow the voter to go online, see where their application status is, whether it's been approved, whether we've mailed the ballot out to them, whether we've received that ballot back, and whether that ballot has been counted. This will assure them that their ballot has been counted. We won't get as many phone calls or voters showing up on election day."

The absentee ballot tracker will be hosted by the state board of elections at no cost to the counties. But, Czarny says, they will continue to advocate in the state’s upcoming budget process for additional funding to cover the cost of the four new early voting sites. All four measures take effect April first.

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