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Early voting for primary off to a strong start in Onondaga County

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WAER File Photo
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DeWitt Town Hall has been an early voting site since early voting began in 2019.

Monday marked the third day of early voting in Onondaga County, and more than 700 primary voters have already chosen which candidate they’d like to see for governor on the November ballot. Democratic elections commissioner Dustin Czarny says we’ve already doubled the previous record for a primary in 2020, but it’s all relative.

"It's really hard to compare because that was a presidential primary; this is a governor's primary. Also, there was a pandemic going on then. There's still a pandemic now, but more people were voting by absentee then than now. It's not comparing apples to apples. We really need more data."

Still, he’s pleased that more voters are choosing early voting as an option. There are eight sites available, up from the previous six, and they’re open longer hours. Czarny says Dewitt and Clay locations have the highest turnout, followed by two Syracuse sites. But he’s also noticed a trend among parties.

"It's just unfortunate that democrats seem to be using this option way more than republicans for this primary...a 5 to 1 ratio. Unfortunately, the rhetoric of the national and state [republican] party has been to save your vote for election day. You see that in absentee numbers and in early voting numbers."

Czarny says he’d like to see more parity in the numbers, where all voters simply do what’s more convenient for them and not be influenced by party rhetoric. He says absentee ballot numbers are down from 2020. But that year was a presidential election and the worst of the pandemic, which would drive those numbers higher. Plus, he says, some changes are coming.

"A, that if you vote by absentee or request an absentee, you can no longer vote on the machines. Also B, starting in August, we'll be paying postage on absentee ballots. That'll be not only more cost effective for voters to return [their ballots], just more convenient. They don't have to go out and get a stamp."

Czarny says a lot of people who request absentee ballots don’t send them back, but maybe pre-paid postage will eliminate a barrier. Meanwhile, early voting continues through Sunday. Primary election day at your regular polling place is Tuesday June 28. More information on early voting locations and times can be found here.

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 srwillis@syr.edu.