BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – The Broome County Board of Elections received the most absentee ballots to date for Tuesday’s primary election. The record comes as state officials and candidates encouraged voters to mail-in their ballots over COVID-19 safety concerns.
New York also saw a record number of absentee ballot applications, with 1.7 million voters requesting ballots for the primary.
According to Mark Smith, the Republican Commissioner for the Broome County Board of Elections, the office received approximately 11,600 mail-in ballots by Tuesday afternoon.
“That’s 11,000 people that didn’t have to leave their houses, that didn’t have to wait in line, that didn’t have to interact with poll workers and other voters at these voting sites,” Smith said.
Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded absentee voting to include all New Yorkers. He also signed an order that allowed ballots to be delivered to county officials up to the day of the election.
Smith said more absentee ballots and early voting led to less congested polling places throughout Broome County, making it easier to maintain social distancing.
Counties around the state still consolidated and changed where people can vote due to concerns over COVID-19 and low voter turnout.
Normally there are more than 140 polling sites in Broome County. On Tuesday, there were just 34.
Scott Geiger, an election coordinator with the Broome County Board of Elections, said polling places were consolidated partly out of concern for the county’s older volunteers, who are more susceptible to COVID-19.
“Because our workers are older, we definitely wanted to have a smaller group,” Geiger said.
While consolidating sites means polling places are seeing voters from more districts, according to Geiger, early and absentee voting kept numbers low.
Absentee ballots, however, won’t be opened for another week. Because of this, results on some races may be delayed.