Voters cast their ballots early in Onondaga County

Onondaga County voters cast ballots early

Over 59,000 citizens voted before Election Day at six polling locations across the county.
Published: November 1, 2020

Early voting wrapped up on Sunday in Onondaga County. Throughout the nine-day period, over 59,000 residents cast their ballots early, per the Onondaga County Board of Elections.
Election 2020

At these voting locations, masks and social distancing was required. Residents were able to vote at six polling locations: Camillus Fire Station on Newport Road, Clay Town Hall, DeWitt Town​ Hall, LaFayette Fire Station #1, Armond Magnarelli Community Center at McChesney Park, and Syracuse Community Connections (Southwest Community Center).

Early Voting at Clay Town Hall
Onondaga County voters wear masks and socially distance as they wait to cast their ballot outside of Clay Town Hall Courtroom, an early voting location on Oct. 30.
Early Voting at Clay Town Hall
October 30, 2020 12:00 pm

Dozens of voters lined up outside of Clay Town Hall Courtroom to cast their ballot in-person on the sixth day of early voting in Onondaga County.

Although many people opted to vote by mail due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some chose to carry out their civic duty through the most traditional method: in-person at the polls.

Inside Syracuse Community Polling Center
With ballots in hand, voters prepare to cast their votes on Oct. 31 at the Southwest Community Center.
Syracuse Community Connections
October 31, 2020 12:00 am

On Halloween, voter turnout at the Southwest Community Center was slow but steady. Outside the center, members of the Black Leadership Coalition and united healthcare workers from SEIU 1199 encouraged people to get out and vote.

The Black Leadership Coalition, which represents Black and brown voices in Syracuse and New York state, typically speaks with candidates regarding their policies and how they will effect marginalized communities. On Saturday, they stood outside the polling place with coffee and water urging people to vote. Members of SEIU 1199 said they supported  healthcare for all and encouraged others to vote for that.

The polling location opened at 8 a.m. and was staffed with several first-time poll workers.  Although the turnout was slow on Halloween, poll workers said that earlier in the week, lines to vote were typically out the door.

By the time the polls closed on Saturday, 710 people had voted at the Southwest Community Center, Dustin M. Czarney, the Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner, tweeted.

Armond Center Early Voters Peter Cannavò and Helen Jacoby
A young boy jumps around in line as his parents wait to vote at the Armond Magnarelli Center at McChesney Park on Oct. 31.
Armond Magnarelli Community Center
October 31, 2020 12:00 am

Syracuse residents trickled into the Armond Magnarelli Community Center at McChesney Park to exercise their right to vote on a chilly Saturday morning.

The polling center lines were fairly short, and voters said the whole process only took about 20 minutes. Parents waited in line with bundled and excitable toddlers. Senior citizens showed more patience.

While most people chose to vote early because of the coronavirus pandemic or to avoid long wait times on Election Day, Syracuse residents Helen Jacoby and her husband Peter Cannavò had a different reason for voting today.

“We have roofers replacing the roof on our house, and they were pounding on our roof this morning, and we thought this would be a good time to come and vote,” Jacoby said.

Jacoby also said she might be working late on Tuesday, so she wanted to avoid being stuck in Election Day lines. The couple lives just a few blocks away from the community center and said they were pleased with the polling center’s service. Cannavò said the poll workers made the entire process very efficient, and he called them “heroic” for working during a pandemic.

For Jacoby, it was an easy decision to perform her civic duty today.

“It’s always important in a democracy to vote for the candidates one believes in,” Jacoby said. “This year, it’s never been as important an election in my entire life.”

Voters leave the Camillus Fire Station on Oct. 31, 2020 after casting their ballots.
Voters leave the Camillus Fire Station on Oct. 31 after casting their ballots.
Camillus Fire Station
October 31, 2020 12:00 am

Residents of Camillus gathered at the town’s early voting location Saturday to cast their ballots three days before Election Day.

The Camillus Fire Station on Newport Road is one of six early voting locations in Onondaga County. Early voting began in the county on Oct. 24 and will last until Sunday afternoon. As of Saturday afternoon, 52,046 people have voted at the locations, according to data from the Onondaga County Board of Elections.

Cars drove around the front of the fire station and parked along the side and the back, following signs that said “Vote here.” At parts of the afternoon, residents were able to enter the fire station and vote without standing in line outside of the building.

Merritt Badeau is one of the 11,117 residents who have voted at the Camillus Fire Station so far. Badeau works during the week and voted early to participate in the election at a convenient time.

“(Voting early) was very easy,” Badeau said. “They’re running it pretty much the same way that they do when you go on the actual day.”

Everyone at the early voting location wore masks and practiced social distancing, Badeau said. The entire process took about 10 minutes.

For Badeau, the election is part of the democratic process, and all residents should participate by voting.

“I hope everybody comes out and does what they need to do, I really want everybody to vote,” Badeau said. “It’s definitely an important part of who we are as a country, and I hope everybody takes advantage of it.”

The line into the Dewitt Town Hall Courtroom for early voting can be seen extending inside.
The line into the Dewitt Town Hall Courtroom for early voting can be seen extending inside.
Dewitt Town Hall
November 1, 2020 12:00 am

Prospective voters lined up outside of the Dewitt Town Hall Courtroom on an overcast Sunday afternoon, the last day of early voting. Signs along Butternut Drive directed traffic to the entrance of the building, alongside bright orange cones aimed at controlling the incoming and outgoing traffic. The parking lot was marked with these orange cones as well, designating areas in which lines were expected to form and follow, yet voters looking to park found difficulty in locating open spots, some even driving away due to the lack of spots immediately after entering the parking lot.

Although the line only spanned into the beginning of the parking lot, many waited in line for a while before they were able to enter the building, many unprepared for the eventual rainstorm that engulfed the area. Some of the people in line even left before they were able to cast their vote as the wind and rain picked up. In order to enter the building, voters were required to wear masks. There were no officials mediating the line, nor were the voters in the line wearing or waving merchandise representing the candidates or parties that they would be voting for, although it could be seen inside that the line spanned even further.

LaFayette Fire Station
November 1, 2020 12:00 am

Voters in LaFayette on Sunday were among about 59,000 Onondaga County residents who cast their ballot early this year.

The LaFayette Fire Station is one of six early voting locations in the county. Early voting began on Oct. 24 and ended Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. As of Sunday evening, 7,235 people have voted at the locations today alone, according to data from the Onondaga County Board of Elections.

Voters in LaFayette came and went quickly, parking their cars in the back of the station and entering through the building’s back door. ‘Vote here’ signs at the bottom of the fire station’s driveway and a row of cones led voters to the polls. Wait times at the early voting center were about three minutes Sunday, one of the shortest across the county’s locations.

Voters leaving the station said the process was quick and easy. They returned to their vehicles, some featuring stickers and flags supporting their preferred candidates.

Poll workers came out of the fire station at one point to tell a voter with a Trump flag on his pickup truck that he would have to remove the flag. New York election laws prohibit loitering or electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place.

The man returned the flag to its holder on the bed of his truck after voting.

The early voting numbers account for 28% of all the votes cast in the county during the 2016 election, according to state data. Including absentee ballot voting, more than 111,000 people have voted in the county as of Sunday, elections officials said.