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Voter turnout slightly down despite increase in mail-in votes

James Brown
A voting sign at the David Gantt R-Center on North Street.

Mail-in voting was commonplace this year and Zach King, chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee, said it should stay that way. 

An executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed all eligible voters to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. King said more options is good for democracy.,
“I think it's something we’re gonna want to expand upon going forward because it allows more people to participate in the process,” said King. “I think it's something that people are excited about and people are utilizing, that makes up about 40% of the overall demographic in Monroe (county).”

More than 90,000 people voted by mail but Monroe County GOP Chairman BIll Napier said they likely would have voted anyway. Monroe County’s voter turnout for the 2016 presidential election turnout was about 76%, this year it was down to 73%.

Napier said he’s open to keeping the volume of mail-in voting high, but only if the state increases funding for county election boards.

“I don’t think they can currently continue on without some additional resources from the state so that they can do this on an ongoing basis,” said Napier. “There’s been a rapid change in that in New York state over the past two years and I don’t think that that pace is going to slow down.”

An increase in mail-in and absentee votes mean a longer, tabulation process in New York state. The Board of Elections is cross-referencing votes made by mail and in-person to make sure that no one voted twice. They intend to start counting absentee ballots on Nov. 16 and hope to finish the count before Thanksgiving.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.