Voter Turnout Higher In North County, Jamestown Lower Despite Contested Races

The south county saw less voters turn out for Tuesday’s election compared to the north county. P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti

While voter turnout was high in northern Chautauqua County, the turnout in Jamestown left a lot to be desired, according to Norman Green.

“Jamestown was frustrating,” he said.

Green, Chautauqua County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner, said the overall turnout in Chautauqua County was 38 percent, while the voter turnout for Jamestown was 27 percent.

Green said he was heartened by the overall numbers in the county, especially for a local election year. He said it was more than he and his colleague, Republican Commissioner of Elections Brian Abram, had expected.

“Overall, in Chautauqua County, it was quite surprising,” Green said.

A possible reason why north county voters turned out more was because three out of four major candidates reside in the area, but no countywide candidates came out of Jamestown, he said. Yet, Green pointed out that there were contested races in Jamestown, like the at-large city council seats, that should have drawn voters out on Tuesday. Green said it was “disturbing,” that Jamestown voters didn’t head to the polls in greater numbers.

However, Green said the town of Carroll saw a larger turn out due to the “spirited” town supervisor race.

When it comes to encouraging voters to hit the polls, Green said that’s not the job of the Board of Elections. For one thing, Green said someone might think that the board was encouraging one side more than the other.

“That encouragement has to percolate through the candidates,” he said. “Jamestown had good competition in the at-large races. The contests were there.”

Green added that it is a tough county for elections due to the number of elected officials and the shrinking population.

“We have 500 elected officials,” he said, adding when it comes to elections, the opposite party of whoever is currently in the positions has to find one person for each of those positions.

Green said he is hopeful for next year that voters will become more interested in the congressional race which will be held next year featuring U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning. There are currently 10 or 11 candidates in the running against Reed right now, he said. Also in 2018, the governor’s spot will be on the ballot as well as the attorney general and the state comptroller.

After that, Green said in 2019, it will be a local election which feature the office of the Jamestown mayor on the ballot.

Local elections such as what were voted on Tuesday night are important, he said.

“Local elections are the one’s that decide what you’re going to do locally,” Green said. “Electing good people and the right people every time makes a difference.”

George Borrello, newly elected county executive, said he thought the turnout was strong from what he understood.

“I think that’s very important because in all local elections, the turnout is very small, usually,” Borrello said. “I really think that’s sad because it’s local government that has the most influence on your life. Also, it’s the people that you have the opportunity to be closest to and to interact with the most. Really, you should want to turn out for local elections.”

Borrello said he felt that people wanted to turn out for the local election Tuesday for that reason.

“I think we saw people realizing that this is the best opportunity for us to further elevate Chautauqua County, and to make sure we have the right people in the right positions in Chautauqua County,” he said. “That strong turnout is a sign that people understand that.”