Hundreds vote early first weekend in Essex County

In Essex County, more than 500 people had already cast their votes in the general election as of Sunday evening, Oct. 25. Early voting began the day before at the Essex County Public Safety Building, 702 Stowersville Road, in Lewis.

According to Republican election Commissioner Allison McGahay, 325 people in Essex County turned out on the first day to vote, with lines lasting as long as 40 minutes. On Sunday, 255 people voted.

McGahay said for last year’s general election — the first in New York with early voting — over the nine days of early voting there were 290 early voters in the county.

This year, with increased interest in the presidential election and during a pandemic when many voters are voting by alternate methods, the county is on track to reach record numbers of voter turnout, across all three methods of voting: absentee, early and on Election Day.

McGahay said of the 4,607 absentee ballots the county has distributed, 2,992 had been returned as of Sunday afternoon. That’s already almost double the number counted in total for the 2016 presidential election. According to McGahay, usually the county would be able to handle this easily, but COVID-19 and the physical distancing it requires has meant that lines will take longer.

Early voting will continue daily through Sunday, Nov. 1 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, when polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. To be eligible to vote on Election Day, people will need to be in line at the 9 p.m. close of the polls; anyone arriving after the polls close will not be able to vote.

The election office can receive absentee ballots until Nov. 10 if they’re postmarked by or delivered on Nov. 3. Military absentee ballots can come in up to Nov. 17.

Changing votes

Early voters are not eligible to vote again on Election Day. However, someone who votes absentee ahead of time can vote in person on Election Day to replace their absentee ballot. McGahay said the county waits to open absentee ballots until at least one week after the election so they can check if that person voted in person. If they did, their absentee ballot does not get opened. This ensures they only vote once.

If a person requests multiple absentee ballots and submits them, but doesn’t vote in person, only the ballot that’s postmarked last will be counted.

Polling places

Here are the Election Day polling locations in the Olympic Region.

– Jay Districts 1 and 2: Town Office, 11 School Lane, AuSable Forks

– North Elba Districts 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6, Town Hall, 2693 Main St., Lake Placid

– North Elba Districts 2 and 7, Town House, 193 River St., Saranac Lake

– Keene Districts 1 and 2, Fire Hall, 15 Market St., Keene Valley

– Wilmington, Community Center, 7 Community Circle, Wilmington