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A large number of absentee ballots could slow results for some primary contests

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The Monroe County Board of Elections is usually very busy with just days to before an election, but the operations are facing a different kind of pressure in connection with next week’s primaries. 

Board of Elections officials say they are dealing with an unprecedented volume of applications for absentee ballots. Even though there is early voting going on now, and there will be in-person voting allowed in the primaries next Tuesday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has encouraged voters to consider applying for absentee ballots due to the pandemic, and many of them have.

Republican Monroe County Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay said that more than 17,000 ballots that have come in so far, and she expects that number to double by the time all the ballots come in. They have to be postmarked by Primary Day, June 23, and they have to be received by the Board of Elections by June 30.

Because of all the absentee ballots, Nicolay said it’s possible some of the races may be difficult to determine until at least a week after the elections.

“We’re not going to be counting ballots until 7-days post-Primary Day, so a lot of the decisions will be announced in July, early July.” Nicolay said that the in-person early voting that began last week, has not seen a lot of voters turn out.

The polling locations are not as busy as we would hope. I’m not sure why that is, if people are taking advantage of the absentee mailing, or if they are planning on voting on Tuesday,

Next Tuesday’s contests include state and local primaries and also a special election and Republican primary for people living in the 27th congressional district. There is also a Democratic presidential primary in New York.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.