Local voters head to the polls for Election Day

Voters head to the polls for Election Day

With 59,000 votes already cast during early voting, Onondaga County is poised to decide local, state and national races.
Published: November 3, 2020

With polls open as of 6 a.m., thousands of local voters will spend Tuesday casting ballots for several local, state and national races that are on the line this year.Election 2020

Along with the presidential contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, voters will have their say on the U.S. Congressional seat for New York District 24 held by John Katko that is being contested again by Democratic challenger Dana Balter.

Election Day arrived after a nine-day early voting period in New York during which 59,000 votes were cast in Onondaga County.

Dozens of Newhouse School journalism students fanned out across central New York on Election Day for the Democracy in Action initiative. Check out highlights below, get the latest updates and follow on Twitter at @DemocracyAction.

Paul Wiedeman, center, the poll site manager, works with a poll worker and a voter to get them thier ballot. This was the first election Wiedeman has been a poll site manager, but he has worked the polls in past cycles. (Photo by Patrick Linehan)
Paul Wiedeman, center, the poll site manager, works with a poll worker and a voter to get them thier ballot. This was the first election Wiedeman has been a poll site manager, but he has worked the polls in past cycles.

For Syracuse Voters, Today Isn’t just About the Presidential Election

 The presidential election may be getting most of the coverage nationally, but here in Syracuse residents are encouraging their fellow voters to pay more attention to the local elections taking place.

Sam Gruber was holding a sign promoting a local candidate outside of the Reformed Church of Syracuse. His reason?

“I’m actually holding a sign here to remind people, those people who need reminding that this isn’t only an election for president today but there are a lot of important down ballot races,” Gruber said. “I think everybody coming here knows whether they’re voting for Biden or Trump … but a lot of people come in and they vote for president and they may not be thinking about all the other races … all of which actually impact the lives of residents of Syracuse much more or at least in very different ways than the presidential race.”

– Brendon Hodges

Video by Brendon Hodges | Democracy in Action

Café Kubal Free Coffee Brings Joy to Voters at Camillus Polling Station

Tensions were high today for many who went to the polling places in Central New York. This stressed is caused by various factors: the cold weather, the long lines, and, arguably most stressful, the upcoming decision about who will take charge of the oval office for the next four years. Voters have a lot running through their minds as they walk into the polling stations to make that choice. The voters who went to the Camillus Fire Station polling site found Café Kubal employees waiting there for them with a surprise.

Today, Michael John Heagerty, Café Kubal employee, was at the Camillus Fire Station for with free cups of coffee for voters. Heagerty said that he volunteered for the position as a favor to Jim McBride, the fire chief of Camillus Fire Station.

“Jim asked us to come and do the polling. He’s been giving away coffee for the pre-voting and they were a little overwhelmed,” Heagerty said. “So I said ‘Hey Jim why don’t I come by with some hot coffee to give away for free to voters.’”

It is safe to say that many voters were thankful for Heagerty’s kind gift to them. One voter, 90-year-old Joan Seubert, said she believes coffee can bring people together in a time when the country feels politically polarized.

“It just makes you feel good that there’s people out there thinking about you and trying to make us all come together,” Seubert said.

Samantha Croston

Video by Samantha Croston | Democracy in Action

Voters get an early start in Syracuse

As the rain poured, final touches were being placed on what would soon be a busy polling site at Nottingham High School. Workers were preparing the hand sanitizer and bottles of disinfectants when the first two voters arrived at 5:45 a.m.

Not long after the polls opened at 6 a.m., the line was starting to curve outside the building where, despite the addition of multiple early voting options, people still made the decision to vote in person on Election Day. One of whom was Melanie Dunham, a nurse getting ready for her shift, sporting her Old Navy mask and determined to vote.

Dunham had been voting ever since she was 18, armed with the notion that “you just have to think that in the grand scheme of things your one little vote counts.”

– Brittany Miller

Syracuse student flies home to Texas to vote

One Syracuse University junior is so adamant to have his voice heard on Election Day that he is flying to his home of Dallas, Texas, to cast his ballot. Chase Fitzpatrick has been preparing for Election Day since he started an internship at a congressional campaign over the summer. He calls voters in the 24th District of Texas to ask them to vote for candidate Candace Valenzuela and to encourage them to vote early.

However, Fitzpatrick’s own attempts to vote early have proved unsuccessful. He applied for an absentee ballot over a month and a half ago and it has still not arrived. When he called the Dallas County election office, they told him his ballot was in transit to Syracuse. When he inquired again, they told him he had to write a hand-written note to re-apply for a ballot. However, shortly after that they told him the hand-written note would not be enough. So, he decided not to let the short-comings with the mail stop him from doing his civic duty.

“I have made the decision to fly home and vote in person. Hopefully, my ballot shows up in person, so I do not have to vote provisionally, but I’ll nonetheless feel good that I made the effort to vote,” Fitzpatrick said.

– Allison Weiss

Video by Allison Weiss | Democracy in Action

Early Voter Turnout Low, But Voters Emphasize Desire to Make Change

Onondaga County voters have spoken. And they have spoken early.

Thirty-six percent of voters have already cast their ballots. That is the most early voting in Onondaga County history (they began collecting data in 1996). With 308,296 people registered to vote in the county, officials believe about 200,000 people could vote in person today.

At least for Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church, that was not the case early this morning.

Polling manager Carolyn Smith ran Pebble Hill’s site in 2016 and said the voter turnout in the morning was not comparable. Smith said from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., about 200 people were constantly in line waiting to vote.

This year the most was about 50 people when the site opened at 6 a.m.

Voters who showed up in person could walk in, receive a ballot, vote, and walk out in under five minutes.

People showed up to vote for a variety of reasons. Upstate Medical worker Brittanee Cerio said she felt an obligation to come and make her voice heard.

“We the people are the ones who ultimately make the decision,” Cerio said. “So it’s our job to get out there and make our vote count.”

-Daniel Baldwin 

Video by Daniel Baldwin | Democracy in Action