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CNY Voters Flock to Early Voting Sites on First Day as Political Leaders Urge Turnout

James Corrigan/WAER News

The start of early voting across New York Saturday was met with great enthusiasm, judging by the participation at some of the six polling sites in Onondaga County.  People reported waiting in lines to vote anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours or more. 

Lines at the Southwest Community Center wound through several blocks by mid-morning.  People waited mostly patiently in line before going into the center to vote.  Veteran Mick Dunmore was among the morning wave of voters and wanted to register his vote based on certain issues.

“Of course we have systemic racism which is indelible … in the character of our nation.  That’s how we were built.  We’re not going to get rid of it but you need someone who’s going to try.” 

He adds he never considered absentee voting as long as he’s physically able to go to the polls.  Dunmore wanted to be part of early voting.

“You can see the long lines.  I can anticipate these now and on November 3rd.  I don’t want to be the subject of last-minute voting and getting disgruntled, and then walking off.” 

Credit Courtesy of Nancy Keefe Rhodes
Voters lined up to get into the polling place a Dewitt Town Hall Saturday

Voters in Dewitt also found lines, many having to park blocks away from the Dewitt Town Hall polling location. 

Local educator, art scholar and writer Nancy Keefe Rhodes was happy to stand in the line to be part of this first early voting opportunity during a presidential election.  She finds it hard to believe that people said they were put off by the lines.

“We have now joined South Africa, Bosnia, & Afghanistan in realizing we cannot take our vote for granted.”

She remembers seeing pictures of people staning in long lines in other countries to have the opportunity to vote.

“This morning I felt something similar - that the country knows each of us must step up. I’ve never been so happy to cast my vote as today.”

People also reported lines of 2 hours or more at the Clay Town Hall polling place.

Early voting continues tomorrow and every day through November 1st.  The general election is November 3rd, for those who choose to cast their ballot on the traditional voting day.  However enthusiasm for both early voting and mail-in voting promise to boost voter turnout to high, if not record, levels. 

(Early voting locations and hours below)


Credit Kyle Chouinard/WAER News
Religious leaders, community organizers and politicians, including State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli held a get-out-the-vote rally Saturday to encourage people to take part in early voting.

Religious leaders, community organizers and elected officials held an event on Syracuse’s southside to encourage early voting.  Many stressed the importance of this specific election and encouraged people to cast their votes for both state and national candidates. 

The Service Employees International union helped host the event.  One member encourages people to utilize early voting in the same way the union’s many health care workers participate n the community.

“When a global pandemic ravages our country, we didn’t go anywhere.  We’re here to help; we’re here to care for our patients, our residents, our families, our communities.  And we’re here to vote.”

Pastor Colette Matthews-Carter of Zion Hill World Harvest Baptist Church calls this a critical election.

“We have the opportunity to reset our country’s agenda.  The visceral displays of hate, white supremacy, lack of civility, racism, and lack of empathy, will not stand.”

She’s concerned about the future of our democracy.

“You have the power …. Your vote is your voice.  Today begins 9 days of change … with 9 days of early voting."

Numerous politicians made a point to vote Saturday – and promoted doing so.  They all wanted to promote early voting to encourage overall turnout.  Among them, Mayor Ben Walsh, State Senator Rachel May, State Assembly Member Pamela Hunter, and Congressional Candidate Dana Balter. 

Onondaga County Early Voting Polling Hours

  • Sunday, October 25, 2020: 10:00AM – 3:00PM
  • Monday, October 26, 2020: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
  • Tuesday, October 27, 2020: 12:00PM – 8:00PM
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020: 12:00PM – 8:00PM
  • Thursday, October 29, 2020: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
  • Friday, October 30, 2020: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
  • Saturday, October 31, 2020: 10:00AM – 3:00PM
  • Sunday, November 1, 2020: 10:00AM – 3:00PM


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Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.