BUFFALO, N.Y. — Election Day 2020 is finally here!
That said, this election cycle has been notably different, which means Tuesday has the potential to be different too.
As concerns over COVID-19 continue to surge, communities (and voters in-particular) have been asking important questions and airing concerns in anticipation.
While the nation saw a record high turnout of early voters, the Erie County Board of Elections says they are still anticipating a huge voter turnout Tuesday at all 314 polling sites due to the high volume of registered voters this year.
Polling locations are open until 9 p.m.
Nearly 168,000 of Erie County's 630,000 registered voters cast their ballots in advance of Election Day, which is about 39 percent of the electorate in the county.
Most people we have heard from on Tuesday say there has been little to no wait at the polls.
You may notice police officers stationed outside polls. The Town of Tonawanda Police Department notified its residents that they would be there to keep polling places safe.
Jeremy Zellner is the Democratic Commissioner for the Erie County Board of Elections and says the county has heightened safety measures to match the community's heightened level of enthusiasm.
"We're just asking them to make sure they were a mask, stay 6 feet apart," Zellner said. "If they want to bring their own black pen they can certainly do that, we'll have pens, but if it makes them feel more safe they can certainly do that to mark the ballots."
Periodic disinfecting of polling sites will take place as an added safety precaution.
So, what else should you consider before heading to the polls?
1. Make a plan. Polling sites open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. If you still don't know where you're polling site is, head over to your county's Board of Elections website to find out.
2. All polling locations in New York State are adhering to state and federal safety rules and regulations, that includes COVID-19 executive orders. If you don't follow rules, you may be asked to leave a polling site.
3. Identification is not required in New York State, unless you are a first-time voter.
4. Lines are to be expected, so be prepared just in case. Given the change in weather, dress appropriately. Bring something to eat, drink, maybe even a distraction to keep you busy as time passes.
5. For those who need special assistance, speak to a poll worker immediately upon arrival to avoid lines.
Per safety measures, Zellner says, "We don't want to have a lot of folks inside congregating so where we did have areas with larger rooms, we certainly didn't want to bring in more equipment and have more people inside."
As far as when votes will be counted and announcements made, Erie County officials say it could be a while. According to the board, 76,000 absentee ballots need to be counted first, they are asking for people's patience.
If you live in a different county, be sure to visit your county's Board of Elections website for specifics pertaining to your area.
For more information on the 2020 Election, visit our Decision 2020 Voter Guide.