SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Early voting hours for next week’s primary elections have been extended in a move officials believe will increase voter turnout.
It provides an opportunity for the usually smaller pool of primary voters to make their critically important voices heard within their party.
“[It’s] helpful,” said voter Celestine Davis. “We’ve all got different mind clocks. We get up and we go, or we sit down and we wait for a while. Here I am, I’m going early so we can get it out of the way.”
Davis, a senior citizen, believed the expanded hours would provide more opportunities for voters on different schedules, and Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny agreed with her.
“During the last couple cycles the weekday early voting has been very busy,” said Czarny. “I think it’s because they have a full eight hours to choose from.”
The expansion to eight-hour voting days, while crucial, is legally required during weekdays. The key decision to make at an official level was what eight hours to be open. It’s a decision the Onondaga County Board of Elections has wrestled with the past few years.
“We moved it to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and that really helped, we used to be 9 to 5,” said Czarny. “That allows people driving home from work to be able to vote as well.”
These distinctions are particularly important in an election like a local primary, where only 17% of county voters are eligible via registration to a political party.
“I’m just doing it so on the 22nd I don’t have to stress about getting out there,” said Davis.
The polls are set to remain open until Sunday, but this coming weekend the hours will be reduced to just five. If you want to vote in the local primary, be sure you are registered with a political party holding a primary next Tuesday.
The hours are set to change as well, to provide the most opportunity to voters. On Tuesday and Wednesday, polling locations will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., before returning to the previously mentioned times for Thursday and Friday.
For more information on the four polling locations, visit ongov.net. Early voting will continue through Sunday before the actual election day on Tuesday.