SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Onondaga County experienced a nice bump in Early Voting turnout.
Final results released Sunday night showed that the county saw a 30.28% increase in vote totals compared to Early Voting turnout in 2021. The figure is even higher compared to 2019, the first year New Yorkers could vote early — an increase of 49.75%.
Dustin Czarny, the Onondaga County Board of Elections Commissioner said that part of the reason totals are up is the fact that the idea of going to the polls early is something Onondaga County residents are getting used to.
“Being new, we have to look to other states and what the patterns were there,” Czarny said. “The other states, when they implemented early voting, it started off small, and grew and grew and grew as people knew about the program — trusted the program.”
Czarny also says that New York State has done some refining of its Early Voting system since the 2019 launch.
The Make Voting Easier act, passed in 2022, increased the number of mandatory minimum early voting stations to ten from six.
“We’ve put these early voting locations closer to where people live. And so they’re finding it more accessible and they’re using it.”
There are a lot of other changes for Onondaga County as well going forward. This year, voting machines from Clear Ballot are replacing previous ones from Dominion Voting Systems. Czarny said the change is unrelated to a lot of the national drama surrounding the company, after Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News Channel, settled with the company for nearly $800 million in April over a defamation lawsuit.
Czarny said that it was time for a change. The Dominion machines had been in use for 15 years.
“We had several different vendors come in and the Clear Ballot system wowed us,” Czarny said. “We thought it was great for our needs. It’s mobile… It’s a quick machine and it’s something that the voter’s experience is going to be really good at.”
Election Denialism has been a big issue around the country over the past couple of years, following the 2020 Election and the subsequent insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Czarny says thankfully, the county has not seen any physical harm towards poll workers — but some people have taken a different look after what they’ve seen from a national perspective.
The Board of Elections Commissioner is preaching transparency, and one way he’s trying to be transparent is through a new voting results system.
“It’s going to break out the early vote from the Election Day,” Czarny said. “So people are really going to be able to see how the vote is constructed. And I think once again, being more transparent is the best way to do this.”
Election law changes now allow election officials to count early voting and absentee ballots before polls close on Election Day, which could allow for a nicer process on election night — and more of a blend in ballot counting.