JAMESTOWN – Thousands of people turned out to vote early in Chautauqua County over the weekend.
At the Chautauqua Mall in Lakewood some voters had up to a 20 minute wait to cast their ballots due to the large turnout. In total, more than 2,000 people voted over the weekend.
Chautauqua County Republican Election Commissioner Brian Abram says the process is almost identical to voting on election day.
“Except that the ballot is created right in front of you,” said Abrams. “To print takes some time, especially with the amount of information on a ballot.”
Early voting continues through Sunday at the Elections Office in Mayville, the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds in Dunkirk and at the Chautauqua Mall in Lakewood.
On Monday and Tuesday, polling places are open from noon until 8 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.
Those who vote early cannot cast their ballots on election day. This is the first time New Yorkers have been able to vote early in the presidential election.
The state launched early voting last year. Its biggest use so far was in the June primary, when more than 118,000 people voted early, or about 6.7% of the total votes cast.
People can also vote by absentee ballot this year. Officials are trying to avoid crowded polling places on Election Day because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nationwide more than 50 million Americans already cast their ballots for the presidential election. That’s 36 percent of the total ballots cast in the 2016 Election.