BUFFALO, N.Y. — From the Niagara Frontier, to the City of Buffalo, the Southtowns and the Southern Tier, early voting has started in New York today and people are turning out in big numbers.
Voters turned out to 48 early voting locations across Western New York, and despite the shift from nearly 80 degrees on Friday down to 40 on Saturday, a slight chill didn’t stop the hundreds of people 2 On Your Side saw in line to vote.
In Erie County, 14,724 ballots were cast on the first day, or 2.3% of Erie County’s nearly 630,000 registered voters. In 2019, there were 26,514 ballots cast during the nine-day early voting period.
Niagara County got the jumpstart on early voting with pools opening in two locations at 10 this morning.
One voter arrived at 7 a.m. and waited in her car until about 7:30 a.m.
"Then everyone started forming a line so I didn’t want to lose my place, since I was the first one here. So I got out and stood for the last two and half hours," said Jamie Quatro, a Niagara County voter.
Quatro said the only way to initiate change was the reason she insisted on arriving so early to vote. As for the experience, Quatro said the Niagara Falls early voting location was pretty efficient and the line moved quickly.
"No issues here, it was wonderful," Quatro said.
The big surprise on the first day of early voting was the turnout at the Grand Island Welcome Center. When 2 On Your Side arrived just before noon the parking lot was full -- something that, if it has happened, is a rarity.
More than a hundred cars jammed the lock like it was a holiday on the Thruway, and the "family truckster" had to stop for a pit stop, except to vote.
Inside the Welcome Center, the line wrapped around the $25 million facility like an old game of snake on a Nokia 5110. And that was the story elsewhere in Western New York as well.
"Well, I think I'll be here a while," one voter said as 2 On Your Side was leaving the scene.
Reports of long but efficient lines came in from Clarence, West Seneca, and Springville.
The Delavan Grider Community Center had the longest line, with roughly 200 to 250 people wrapped around the block of the center when WGRZ was on the scene.
Volunteers stood roadside holding signs promoting the voting location.
Buffalo resident Kathy Burger was excited while in line, especially about the turnout.
"I am so proud of the African-American community out here," Burger said. "We got a whole lot that has been out here for an hour, but that’s all right!"
But it wasn’t smooth sailing everywhere.
"I understand there are kinks in the first day," Sue Kruszona said over the phone. "I understand that, but not that the machines are down."
Kruszona tried to vote at the Elma voting location at the senior center. When the polls were to be opened at noon, a poll worker came out and stated that there was an issue with the voting machines and that they couldn't accept votes at the moment.
An Erie County Board of Elections officials confirmed with 2 On Your Side that there was an issue with a machine and that a technician was dispatched to fix it.
"I brought my 74-year-old uncle to vote, and he couldn't," Kruszona said.
Aside from that minor hiccup, everything we saw today indicated that things moved efficiently and people were eager to vote.
One question we keep getting from viewers is when will these early votes get counted.
As soon as the polls close on November 3, the first results you’ll see will be the votes cast from October 24 through November 1.
Another issue that came up is people telling us their normal polling place is closed. Your normal polling place may not be an early voting location, check with your local Board of Elections office for your nearest voting location.