Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) — With midterm elections wrapping up in Onondaga County and nationwide, numbers on voter turnout are not quite finalized. However, Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said voter turnout for this year will sit between 55 and 60%, lower than the 2018 turnout of 62%. Despite this, Czarny is content with the turnout in his county.
“I’m happy enough, yes. I always love to see 100% turnout and I never get that. And in presidential years, it was 77% in 2020. So it’s down from that,” Czarny said.
Simon Weschle, political science professor at Syracuse University, added that an underperformance for Democrats in New York State compared to nationwide could also be attributed to lower turnout related to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“Making the case, I think that it’s much, much harder to motivate voters in New York because I think most voters in New York were sort of pretty secure that abortion is not going to be outlawed no matter what happens. So I think that may have contributed to a lack of turnout on the Democratic side,” Weschle said.
Czarny took a different approach to interpreting the relative success for Republicans in New York.
“I’m not so sure Democrats are underperforming in New York. I think the districts that were drawn by the special master were deemed to be competitive districts. They weren’t supposed to be Democratic districts versus Republican districts,” Czarny said.
Czarny added things may change on this front for the 2024 election.
“That means in a year like this year, where it’s a non-presidential year, they may swing a little bit Republican, and in presidential years, it may swing a little bit Democrat, so I suspect in 2024, we will see a switch on that,” Czarny said.
As prominent Democrats, like President Joe Biden, touted Democrats’ performances on Tuesday night and beyond, Weschle attributed the nationwide relative slump for Republicans to candidate quality.
“The candidates that Republicans nominated in a lot of districts and a lot of states didn’t help them, in particular the Senate race in Pennsylvania, for example. Because the Republicans nominated candidates that were either inexperience or had held fringe views in terms of denying the 2020 election, or both, that cost Republicans quite a few seats in both chambers,” Weschle said.
When it comes to the general health of American democracy, especially following the events of January 6, 2020, Weschle added that these midterms may have the country in a better place.
“I think it’s good news for democracy in the United States that the electorate in many parts of the country, have rejected those candidates that deny the election, that don’t play by democratic norms,” Weschle said, adding that the candidates themselves are not as bold with claiming election fraud this time around.
“A lot of people that denied the results of the 2020 election have conceded their races and have not disputed them or drawn out the procedures, so that is unambiguously good news for democracy in the United States,” Weschle said.
Back in Central New York, Czarny is still hard at work, as there are still tight races that are too close to call. In particular, the race for John Katko’s old seat in the US House between Francis Conole (D) and Brandon Williams (R), and the race in the State Senate between incumbent John Mannion (D) and challenger Rebecca Shiroff (R) are yet to be decided.
Czarny said the counting of absentee and affidavit ballots will be finished by Nov. 16, at which point a recount decision will be made. A hand recount in either race could take weeks to finalize a winner.