The midterm election polls closed and staff members are finishing counting the final votes. Although the official numbers for the elections will take a few weeks to finalize, the Onondaga County Board of Elections said the number of registered voters in the county are in.
“For (the county) to surpass the last presidential year (in registered voters) is unheard of,” said Dustin Czarny, the Democratic Commissioner of Onondaga County.
There are over 287,000 voters who registered to vote in the midterm election on Tuesday. That is almost 1,500 more than the number of registered voters in Onondaga County for the 2016 presidential election. About 14,000 of the 287,000 voters are first time registrants and Czarny says although specific demographics are not available until the end of the year, a lot of the 14,000 first time registrants are expected to be younger voters.
Czarny believes a main factor for why there has been an uptick in voter registration is the current mood of the political climate and that races have been neck and neck recently.
First time voter Steven Lee, a junior at Syracuse University and resident of New Jersey, said he decided to register to vote in Onondaga this year instead of his hometown because of how competitive the race here was compared to the ones back home.
“If I’m going to make a meaningful impact in politics this year, I might as well immerse myself in the local politics where I am living… and have my civil participation and civil duty be used there,” said Lee.
Alexis Leriche, another junior at Syracuse University who is a first time registrant in Onondaga County, echoed Lee’s point. Leriche lives on Long Island but said, “it is important for my voice to be heard, especially here, because the community has so many things that needs to be improved on here.“
When asked why Lee and Leriche did not vote by absentee ballot, they both said that they wanted to have a part in the outcome of the races in Onondaga County where they are currently living and wanted to make sure their vote was “secure.”
“Sometimes voting absentee ballot, there is the possibility that things could go wrong. I think voting where you are living is a safer way of voting and making sure what you are voting for gets through,” said Leriche.
“Today we are going through the bags from the election sites. Next week we will start getting everything ready so we can start counting the absentee ballots and other ballots so we can solidify the election before Thanksgiving. As soon we get done with this election we will start prepping for next year,” said Czarny.