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‘Happy To Be Here’

County Sees High Turnout For Early Voting

Katrin Anderson stands with her 6-year-old grandson Jacob after voting on Sunday at the Chautauqua Mall. Early voting began in the county and across the state on Saturday. P-J photos by Cameron Hurst

LAKEWOOD — Jacob Anderson will not be eligible to vote until 2032.

In the meantime, his grandmother, Katrin, will make sure to continue to emphasize the importance of his civic duty.

“I consider this a sacred right,” she said with 6-year-old Jacob at her side as the two waited in line at the Chautauqua Mall for the second day of early voting in the county.

“It’s so vitally important to me and to this country that we all use the voice that we’ve been given to come out and vote,” she added. “Democracy is a gift. And that’s what I want to impress upon him. This is his first time coming with me and I want him to know how important this is.

“We’re so happy to be here.”

A high volume of voters turned out during the first two days of early voting in Chautauqua County on Saturday and Sunday with wait times being as long as 70 minutes.

Voting typically is a family affair and that has continued to be the case since polls opened for in-person early voting on Saturday, according to Democratic Commissioner of Elections Norman Green. “There are a lot of people that are bringing the kids,” he said. “It’s a total family affair. They’re all bringing the family down. If you look down the line, you’ll see people are coming in twos. It’s amazing.”

Green explained that the first two days of voting at the mall, Chautauqua County Fairgrounds in Dunkirk and at the county board of elections office in Mayville went off without a hitch. Those poll sites reopen today from 12 to 8 p.m.

“Everything’s been really smooth,” he said. “No issues at all and no complaints really. The only complaint that I got was that it was a little bit difficult to find the location at the mall. But there are mall rules and we can’t plaster signs all over the place like we can at the fairgrounds.”

Green said that wait times were as long as between 40 to 70 minutes at the mall location during the first day on Saturday due to an incredibly high turnout which is expected to have already surpassed last year’s early voting totals.

“Yesterday, it was busier but nobody ever stopped processing,” he said. “It wasn’t like there was a waiting time because of a hold up at the registration table.”

Meanwhile, a secure drop-off box for those who requested an absentee ballot is also located at each site. Green said he’s seen “hundreds” who have stopped in to drop off their ballot.

In talking to a few of the voters, Green did say he was surprised to see one demographic appearing to vote in particular.

“I can’t believe how many people that are coming in that are older and have never voted before,” he said, noting that Republican commissioner Brian Abram also came across a few similar stories at the fairgrounds location.

“I came across five of them and (Abram) said the same thing,” he said. “All of these people that are 60 years old, they’re talking about how this is the first time they’ve voted. It’s fascinating.”

Early voting continues every day until Nov. 1. Poll sites will be open from 12 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Registered county voters can vote at any of the three sites: Hall R. Clothier Building at 7 N. Erie St. in Mayville; 4-H Building/Ag & Expo Center at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds, 1089 Central Ave. in Dunkirk; or at the Chautauqua Mall, 318 Fairmount Ave. in Lakewood.

Additional information can be found at votechautauqua.com.

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