CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. — As Western New Yorkers start to return to the polls — some for the first time since before the pandemic — for many, it’s a foreign concept, as early voting has only been in place statewide since 2019.
“It's been only one day for quite some time. So no, people are just getting used to it. This is only the fourth year. So it's kind of growing and getting its own personality,” said Chautauqua County Board of Elections Commissioner Brian Abrams.
Abrams has been encouraged by its already long lines and early numbers with 1,700 residents having voted, putting the county on track to record its second highest early voter turnout since 2020’s presidential election.
It’s a similar situation to the one up in Erie County where early voter numbers are twice what they were in 2021 and half of what they were when Trump and Biden squared off.
But with no previous early voting midterm election data, its hard to draw a conclusion on what this data means, but either way, election officials think it has established itself as an important part of elections moving forward.
“There’s things that come up on Election Day, work, or some event that happens that night that maybe distracts you and then you forget it. Having an early voting option helps you to basically make sure that you do your civic duty and you get out there and vote,” said Abrams.
But not everyone agrees with this positive outlook, former president Donald Trump has publicly discouraged early voting for his party out of his belief that it could allow democrats to steal the election.
But political analyst Carl Calabrese says for the GOP that it is:
“Just the opposite. Republicans want people who have any doubt about voting on Election Day being able to cast an early ballot,” he said. “That’s reality."