Early voting kicks off Saturday in Cattaraugus County

A poll worker hands off an early voting ballot to a voter on Oct. 26, 2019, at the Community Room of the College Center at the Jamestown Community College in Olean. Almost 800 voters in Cattaraugus County turned out for the first early voting days held in New York.

Early voting for New Yorkers begins Saturday, with each county having its own set hours and sites leading up to Election Day on Nov. 3.

In Cattaraugus County, early voting will be held at two locations — at the county Board of Elections office in the former Little Valley school, and the Community Room at the JCC-Cattaraugus County Campus College Center, 260 N. Union St., Olean.

Early voting hours are:

• Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, noon to 8 p.m.

• Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Wednesday, noon to 8 p.m.

• Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Nov. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There will be no early voting Nov. 2, the day before the election.

Voters may only vote early in their home county, but residents of Cattaraugus County may vote at either station. No appointment is necessary, but under state executive order, face masks are required.

Those heading to the polls may only vote once — by voting early, voting the day of the election at their regular polling station, or by absentee ballot. Electronic poll books linking the early voting and regular voting stations will be used to prevent multiple votes, and an absentee ballot received from someone who voted in person will not be counted.

Under state law, counties must have at least one early voting station for every 50,000 voters, but counties may open more — Cattaraugus County elections officials chose to continue using two sites after trying it out in 2019.

WHILE ONLY IN its second year in New York, early voting turnout nationally indicates that locals may turn out for early voting at a much greater volume than recorded in 2019.

According to a report by the Washington Post, at least 42 million voters had already cast ballots by Thursday — with almost two weeks left to election day, numbers are almost the same as those who voted early in 2016.

Some states, including Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, have already received more early votes than during the entire 2016 election cycle. Other states, like Pennsylvania, have noted large returns but did not have early voting options four years ago.

In 2019, 795 Cattaraugus County voters cast their ballots early, 1.77% of registered voters. Of those, 575 voted in Olean, while 220 voted in Little Valley.

Officials reported thousands of absentee ballots have been requested to date.

While more local Republicans voted early than Democrats in 2019, the gap was narrower than party enrollment would suggest. A total of 331 Cattaraugus County Republicans and 311 Democrats voted early in 2019, despite there being about 30% more registered Republicans than Democrats on the voter rolls at the time.

As of Feb. 21, there were 44,803 active registered voters in Cattaraugus County, with 17,915 Republicans, 13,644 Democrats, 9,342 independents, 2,320 Independence Party members, 1,093 Conservatives, 237 Working Families Party members, 125 Green Party members, 93 Libertarians, 33 registered to other parties and one Serve America Movement party member.

New voter roll totals are scheduled to be released Nov. 1.

ABSENTEE BALLOTS are also still available for voters.

The deadline to apply online, postmark, email or fax a completed application or letter request for the General Election Absentee ballot is Tuesday, but voters may apply in person at their county’s board of elections office up to Nov. 2. Completed ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day, or dropped off in person.

To apply for an absentee ballot a voter may be:

• Absent from their county on Election Day.

• Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability — temporary illness includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19.

• Unable to appear because they are the primary caregiver of one or more individuals who are ill or physically disabled.

• A resident or patient of a Veterans Health Administration Hospital.

• Detained in jail awaiting grand jury action or confined in prison after conviction for an offense other than a felony.

For more information, Cattaraugus County elections officials may be reached at 938-2400.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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