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Early Voting Draws Big Crowds

By Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net
and Tyronda James
tyrondajames@minorityreporter.net

The line stretches down Genesee Street Extension as early voters wait to get into the fieldhouse on Oct. 24. Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

Early Voting has begun and the Monroe County Board of Elections wants to ensure that everyone is aware of the opportunities available for voters to cast their early ballots.

Slightly more than 19,000 registered voters cast ballots Oct. 24 and 25, the first two days of early voting for the 2020 general election.

Additionally, nearly 55,000 absentee ballots have been returned, more than 40% of the total requested.
Both sets of data are from the Monroe County Board of Elections, which had encourage people to take advantage of the option to vote in the week ahead of Nov. 3 election day.

“There were so many options as far as days and times. A variety of locations throughout the county,” Democratic Election Commissioner Jackie Ortiz said on Oct. 23, the day before early voting started. “We absolutely encourage everyone to get out. We want everyone to get in and get out, cast their vote as easily as possible.”

It seems that voters across the board have listened. At least one-third of absentee ballots sent to voters in the Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Green and Serve America Movement parties have been returned. Close to one-third of ballots among Libertarians have been returned.

As for early in-person voting, approximately 1% to 4% of voters show up over the nine-day period. On Oct. 24 alone, 1% of Monroe County’s eligible voters, or 9,503 voters, showed up.

Here is the rest of the early voting schedule

  • 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 27
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct.28
  • 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 29
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct.
  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Oct. 31
  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Nov. 1.

The early voting locations are:

  • David F. Gantt Community Center – 700 North St.
  • City of Rochester Recreation Bureau – 2nd Floor, 57 St Paul St.
  • Genesee Valley Field House – 1316 Genesee St.
  • Edgerton Recreation Center – 41 Backus St.
  • SUNY Empire State College – 680 Westfall Road, Brighton
  • Town of Chili Senior Center – 3235 Chili Ave, Chili
  • North Greece Road Church of Christ – 1039 N Greece Road, Greece
  • Marketplace Mall (North Entrance) – 1 Miracle Mile Drive Henrietta
  • Irondequoit Public Library – 1290 Titus Ave.
  • Harris-Whalen Park Lodge – 2126 Penfield Road, Penfield
  • Perinton Square Mall – 6720 Pittsford Palmyra Rd, Perinton
  • Webster Recreation Center – 1350 Chiyoda Drive, Webster

Lines have been long at many if not all the early voting polling places. The Board of Elections said it is committed to allowing every voter in line to cast their ballot, even if it takes us past the designated closing time.

As for voters who plan to go to the polls on Nov. 3, the Board of Elections released information about rides for seniors and military personnel.

  • Seniors can call 211.
  • Seniors also can all TRAC at Lifespan, (585) 244-8400.
  • Veterans can call Monroe County Veteran Services at (585) 753-6040.
  • RTS is making On Demand vehicles available. Call (585) 753-1550.

Riders must wear a mask while in the vehicle and at the polling place.

As for polling sites for Nov. 3, Ortiz said some have changed and voters should watch their mail for information or go to the Board of Elections website at www.monroecounty.gov/elections.

She also said election laws deem wearing a candidate’s name, party affiliation, or any type of apparel that may say vote no or yes in regards to the type of ballot proposition is specifically outlined in terms of electioneering and is unacceptable.

Beginning, Saturday, October 24, the polls will open at 12 different locations until November 1. 

Monroe County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Jackie Ortiz pushes early voting, said the Board is thrilled about the number of excited voters ready to go to the early voting sites. 

“There were so many options as far as days and times. A variety of locations throughout the county,” said Ortiz.

“We absolutely encourage everyone to get out. We want everyone to get in and get out, cast their vote as easily as possible.”

Early voting times are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday; Saturday, October 31, 2020 – 9 a.m. -3 p.m. and Sunday, November 1, 2020 – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Early voting locations:

  • David F. Gantt Community Center – 700 North St, Rochester, NY 14605
  • City of Rochester Recreation Bureau – 2nd Floor, 57 St Paul St, Rochester, NY 14604
  • Genesee Valley Field House – 1316 Genesee St, Rochester, NY 14611
  • Edgerton Recreation Center – 41 Backus St, Rochester, NY 14608
  • SUNY Empire State College – 680 Westfall Rd, Rochester, NY 14620
  • Town of Chili Senior Center – 3235 Chili Ave, Rochester, NY 14624
  • North Greece Road Church of Christ – 1039 N Greece Rd, Rochester, NY 14626
  • Marketplace Mall (North Entrance) – 1 Miracle Mile Dr, Rochester, NY 14623
  • Irondequoit Public Library – 1290 Titus Ave, Rochester, NY 14617
  • Harris-Whalen Park Lodge – 2126 Penfield Rd, Penfield, NY 14526
  • Perinton Square Mall – 6720 Pittsford Palmyra Rd, Fairport, NY 14450
  • Webster Recreation Center – 1350 Chiyoda Dr, Webster, NY 14580

The use of electronic ‘poll pads’ and what most are used to in terms of poll books are no longer, “everything is now iPad style,” said Ortiz.

They hired extra election workers, have additional tables and more than enough voting pads to make sure all goes as planned. “We want to make sure that we were prepared,” Ortiz noted.

“And so we have done our best to try to ensure that the site is as organized as possible so that we don’t get into a situation where there are too many in a crowd.”

The BOE encourages everyone to visit their website to verify registration and correct polling sites. 

Ortiz said some polling sites were not confirmed and so it is important to understand that some sites may be different from voters initially received by mail. The BOE estimates that about 80,000 or so individuals will be receiving the letter of the site has changed. “We’ll have new letters coming to them (voters) in the mail in the next couple of days,” Ortiz said.

“For the most up-to-date information. I encourage everyone to please go to our website. Look yourself up, make sure you’re registered. Double-check your polling site.” 

Though the BOE expects a large voter turn out, Ortiz said they have worked extremely hard and do not anticipate any challenges. 

Ortiz touched on voter attire and said election laws deem wearing a candidate’s name, party affiliation, or any type of apparel that may say vote no or yes in regards to the type of ballot proposition is specifically outlined in terms of electioneering and is unacceptable.

Further information can be found at http://www.monroecounty.gov/elections