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Last call for CNY primary voters choosing congressional, NYS senate candidates

Apparently very few people were heeding this sign in front of the Beauchamp Branch early voting site Mar. 28, 2024.
Scott Willis
Apparently very few people were heeding this sign in front of the Beauchamp Branch early voting site Mar. 28, 2024.

Early voting has wrapped up in Onondaga County, so now all eyes are on the results that come in after Tuesday’s primary election. Democrats in New York’s 22nd congressional district are choosing between John Mannion and Sarah Klee Hood to advance to the general election. Turnout so far has been relatively low. But Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says that’s not unusual.

“Congressional primaries, primaries in general are low turn out events," Czarny said. "We're still looking at historically between 13 and 18%. If we're seeing high turnout, we may see like a 20% on the Democratic side, and around 10 to 15% on the Republican side.”

Republican Elections Commissioner Michele Sardo expresses disappointment with the low turnout by her party's voters. By day nine of early voting, only 251 people had cast ballots in the lone GOP primary on the ballot. Caleb Slater and Fanny Villarreal are seeking the nomination for the 48th senate district.

“Maybe we're going to see more of a turn out [Tuesday], and I know Republicans like to vote on Election Day itself," Sardo said. "I wish they would come out and vote early because we have it and my staff puts in a lot of work to get this completed. But it's their choice.”

Sardo says there are well over 35,000 enrolled republicans who can cast ballots in the 48th senate district. Dustin Czarny says the lack of a GOP congressional primary is likely not inspiring voters.

“We only have SD-48, but that's still about 40% of their total enrolled in the city of Syracuse, western half of our county and south. But it's [turnout's] really low.”

In the other county-wide race, Democrats in the 50th senate district are deciding between Tom Drumm and Chris Ryan to fill the seat being vacated by John Mannion.

The board of elections is also awaiting about 3,000 absentee or vote-by-mail ballots. They need to be postmarked on or before election day to be counted. But Commissioner Sardo says there’s another option.

 “If they need a family member to drop it off because they're unable to get out of the house or whatever, they can drop them off at a polling place," Sardo said. "Any location in the turquoise bags that we have at each site.”

Polls are open Tuesday from 6 am and 9 pm. Voters must report to their regular polling places.

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