The first sign of good news concerning voter turnout for this year’s general election was the large number of residents who requested absentee ballots or participated in early voting.
About 25 percent of registers voters in the tri-county area chose this option. This was a substantial increase.
“In Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, 13,081 voters cast their ballots during early voting this year between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1. That accounts for 11 percent of the 115,241 registered voters across the three counties,” according to a story published Nov. 2 by the Watertown Daily Times. “Between early and absentee voting, at least 25 percent of voters in the tri-county area have already voted in this year’s election. Between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1, each county Board of Elections opened an early voting site for at least four hours per day. And turnout was much higher than any election commissioner had expected.”
Participating in the electoral process is essential for maintaining a vibrant society. Everyone has a stake in how governments on the federal, state and municipal levels operate, so all eligible individuals have a duty to become involved.
Despite the relevance of elections to our lives, turnout is often low — and sometimes, incredibly low. It’s difficult pinpointing exactly why so many Americans fail to vote.
And there were concerns that the novel coronavirus pandemic would suppress turnout even more. Many people didn’t want to risk becoming infected by showing up at their polling station, so they were tempted to stay home.
Fortunately, state and county officials eased voters’ minds about participating in the general election. They streamlined the process for voting by mail and made a concerted effort to publicize the hours and locations for early voting.
They also ensured safety protocols were observed at polling places if people chose to vote on Election Day. All the county Board of Elections staff members and those who served as poll workers deserve a tremendous amount of credit for keeping everything running as efficiently as possible under trying circumstances.
They put in very long hours last week, and we’re grateful for their hard work. Their efforts paid off.
“In Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, more voters cast their ballots in this year’s election than any year before, according to preliminary results from each county Board of Elections,” according to a story published Nov. 5 by the Watertown Daily Times. “This year, more than 104,000 people, or 67 percent of the registered voting base, are on track to have their votes counted in the three-county area, counting both in-person votes and requested absentee ballots. That marks an increase of about 16,000 votes compared to those cast in the 2016 election, and a higher percentage of all registered voters in the three counties. In previous presidential elections, voter turnout has hovered at about the 60 percent mark. In 2016, 87,943 people, or 59.7 percent of all registered voters across the three counties, cast their ballots, and in 2012 that total was 83,277 people, or 56 percent of all registered voters.”
Representatives of the Jefferson County Board of Elections showed they were on the ball when they received 13 ballots meant for other counties and states. They saw to it that all of the ballots were sent to their proper destinations. Election Commissioners Michelle LaFave and Jude Seymour researched the issue to determine that the out-of-state ballots would be validated once they arrived at their appropriate locations.
We’re proud of everyone who voted this year and worked to facilitate the process. This bodes well for more civic engagement in the future, which will benefit Northern New York.