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Continuing the Count: Monroe County’s Absentee and Mail-In Ballots Are Opened

Carol Elizabeth Owens
carolelizabeth@minorityreporter.net

Workers at the Monroe County Board of Elections watch absentee ballots be scanned on Nov. 16, 2020. Photo by Carol Elizabeth Owens/Minority Reporter Media Group

Election Day 2020 did not deliver the final word in all races, and locally the absentee, mail-in and military ballots are now in play.

Monroe County’s Board of Elections began counting 103,000 absentee ballots at 10 a.m. Nov. in City Place, 50 N. Fitzhugh St.

The target is to finish by the end of the week.

“With the volume (of ballots) that we have, I suspect that we are going to take today and probably tomorrow,” said Democratic Elections Commissioner Jackie Ortiz. “I am hoping that by the end of tomorrow we’ll be all set, but we have scheduled additional days as needed. We have set up several teams to get through this as expeditiously as possible.”

Military ballots are not a part of the process started by Monroe County’s Board of Elections today. “We do have military ballots, those are separate. Any federal and/or military (ballots) are separated out so we will actually do those ourselves as commissioners,” Ortiz said.

Deputy Democratic Commissioner Natalie Sheppard said there are races that are close or where absentee ballots could be the difference.

Sheppard declined to specify which local political races may be affected by the tally of ballots received by mail in Monroe County, but stated that “It is very important for people to understand that we are not talking clichés when we say every vote counts – it literally comes down to the wire for some candidates” who seek to be our representatives in government.

The Black and Latino communities are encouraged by Sheppard to participate in the election process. “Your voice absolutely matters,” said Sheppard, adding that “I know there has been a lot culturally where people may feel their voice doesn’t matter for certain reasons in the community, but I just really want people to know that this is one way to advocate for yourself and those that are around you.”

The commissioners encouraged young people to get involved in civic activities such as the election process.

“Here in New York, we do have pre-registration available for any young person who is 16 and 17 years old,” Ortiz said. “It gives you an opportunity, as you are thinking about it, to be able to go ahead and fill out that paperwork and when you turn 18, you will automatically be registered.”

Sheppard said she planned more outreach to young people once this election is completed.