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Primary Day Initiative Aims to Increase Voter Turnout

Scott Willis / WAER News

Many are wondering just how many registered Democrats will actually go to the polls today to select the party's nominee for Governor, State Attorney General and for races closer to Central New York.  Thanks to recent intiatives, the turnout numbers could be higher than in the past.  Volunteers of two organizations have been giving millennials a nudge by sending out 200,000 texts asking if they can count on them to vote.  Common Cause of New York Executive Director Susan Lerner says although there’s a strong surge of interest and activism, people must actually vote.  She says the importance of State races shouldn’t be taken lightly.

"They have a lot of impact on our daily lives. In fact, often, a much more direct impact than whoever is the President or who is serving in Congress."

Lerner says it appears to be an unusual election year.

"There seems to be a very strong feeling among the electorate, certainly in other states and certainly in some of the congressional primaries which we saw, that people are looking for a new way forward. They are looking for new voices and news faces and there are more competitive races on the ballot."

Making your vote count is key but, Lerner acknowledges that problems can arise on primary day.

"If you do get to your polling place, and you know you're at the right polling place, but for some reason your name isn't in the book or there is some problem, you have the right to cast an affidavit ballot. Don't leave without voting.

Lerner says sometimes a scanner might not work or a polling place may not open on time.  They’ve been receiving angry calls from some Upstate voters because the polls did not open before noon – an experience Lerner encourages people to share with their state representatives.  Polls are open until 9 p.m.  The National Election Protection Hotline is available to assist with voting issues. Their number is 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.