BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Voters in Erie County have been showing up in big numbers to cast their ballots since the polls opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and many more are expected to do so before the polls close in the evening.
Erie County Elections officials say we could see record turnout. “This is exciting. This is great. If you like politics, this is the super bowl. This is a good day,” said Erie County’s Democratic Elections Commissioner Len Lenihan.
The county’s Republican Elections Commissioner he thought voter turnout could reach between 50 and 60 percent in some parties, a huge increase over years past. “This is the first time that a presidential primary matters in New York for many many years, and we’re very excited about that,” Ralph Mohr said.
Voters we talked to in Buffalo Tuesday morning say they weren’t surprised by the expectations for turnout in these hotly contested races. “Passions are very high on all sides so I think people are going to come out for the primaries,” said one voter, Morgan Fallon.
At least some voters, though, said they wished the turnout would look like this more often. “You can’t think that way, that one election is more important than another. I feel every election is our right,” said Connie Joyce, who says she has only missed voting in an election once since she turned 18.
“If it’s a big election or a small election, I always take it serious,” said another voter, David Wolfe.
Erie County elections workers are taking the job of making everything run smoothly very seriously, too. Some are making the rounds to polling sites throughout the day to address issues as they come up.
We heard of a small problem at the Ken-Ton library, for example, when the machine would not accept ballots and elections inspectors had to collect the paper ballots in a box for a short time, but that machine was quickly put back online, and no other problems with it have been reported.
Elections officials tell New 4 they’re also ready with more machines to add to locations where the lines start to back up, adding that the goal is to make people spend as little time trying to vote as possible.
“I would say today even with this fairly vigorous turnout here, people are in and out,” Lenihan said. “They’re on their way to take care of the rest of their day.”
Erie County’s polls opened at 6 a.m., while polls in the rest of Western New York’s counties weren’t scheduled to open until noon.
All of the polls will remain open until 9 p.m. Tuesday.