Rochester, N.Y.— On Election Day eve, the Monroe County Board of Elections was bustling with people turning in their absentee ballots.
Kathy Fedick is leaving town Tuesday morning for a work meeting. On Monday night, she came in to the Board of Elections office to turn in her absentee ballot.
“[Voting] really makes a difference so I wanted to make sure I would vote,” she said.
The Monroe County Board of Elections sent out about 19,000 absentee ballots this year. So far, about 13,000 have come back.
Commissioner Thomas Ferrarese said the board expects about 200,000 more people in Monroe County to vote in Tuesday’s election, compared to Election Day 2011. Ferrarese expects voter turnout will be between 80 and 85 percent, a number typical of most presidential elections.
“We actually have 1,500 more privacy booths out there than we had last year,” Ferrarese said. “We've really expanded because we expect a lot more voters.”
Across the country, 27 million people have already voted in 34 states and Washington, D.C. in early voting. New York state only allows absentee voting before Election Day, and only if you are out of the county, ill, hospitalized at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital or incarcerated for an offense less than a felony.
According to Ferrarese, New York state would have to change laws in order to allow early voting.
“Voting absentee here in New York state is actually embedded in the [state] constitution which makes it harder to change,” he said.
Since a majority of New York voters will be voting on Tuesday. and since this is a presidential election, some lines may be long.
“Lines in an election like this are inevitable, particularly around lunchtime and probably after 5 p.m.,” said Farrarese. “We don’t see why anyone would be waiting longer than 15 minutes. That’s the worst case scenario.”