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Low turnout expected as early voting starts Saturday

Max Schulte/WXXI News

2021 is not a congressional or presidential election year, and the highest-profile local race-- Rochester mayor – was all but settled with Malik Evans’ victory in the Democratic primary in June and there are no state legislative races this year.  

Depending on where you live, you are either receiving mailers and flyers, and volunteers are knocking at your door -- or you’re getting nothing at all. That means crucial races on town boards, Rochester City Council and the Monroe County Legislature aren’t getting as much interest across the entire region. 

These conditions, according to Republican Monroe County Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay, usually means fewer people will vote.

“We are expecting probably a pretty low turnout if history shows us anything,” Nicolay said. “In the year after a presidential election, people tend to be a little less involved and less interested, which is unfortunate, but it’s the reality.” 

Despite the dearth of interest, Nicolay asserted that who your school board member, or town supervisor are usually play a larger role in your life than who is in Congress or the White House.

“If you have a pothole on your street that needs fixing, or your child wants to be a part of a recreation program, you don’t call the president or your congressman, you call your town supervisor or town board member and they tend to be pretty responsive,” Nicolay said. 

The good news, she said, is that getting in and out the county’s polling sites should be faster than last year. Adding to the ease of access are two additional early voting sites, bringing the total to 14. 

Precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain, Nicolay said. Voters will be encouraged to wear masks; CDC guidelines will be followed and social distancing will be attempted in all spaces.

“It’ll be a little bit easier this time because it’s the second year we’ve been fighting this pandemic during voting, so it should be easier for our elections inspectors,” Nicolay said. 

Anyone who is registered in the county can vote at any of those sites, which you can find here. Early voting starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and continues every day through Sunday, October 31.

Election Day is November 2. Listen for election coverage that evening on WXXI, starting at 9:00 p.m. and also follow results on Twitter ( @wxxinews ) and 

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.