ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Nate McMurray, the former Grand Island Town Supervisor and Democrat in the race for New York’s 27th Congressional District, voted early Thursday at the Orchard Park Community Activity Center. That just happens to be located in the same town in which his opponent, Incumbent Republican Chris Jacobs, is registered to vote.
“This is an important part of the district,” McMurray said. “It’s a place I’ve been many, many times, and it’s a beautiful facility. So we chose here.”
Registered voters in Erie County are able to vote at any of 37 sites if they choose to vote early through Sunday. If they vote on Election Day next Tuesday, they’ll have to report to their own polling place.
Rep. Jacobs said he plans to vote on Election Day.
“That’s funny because he doesn’t live in the district,” Jacobs said when told that McMurray planned to vote in Orchard Park. “Isn’t that convenient he’s voting in the district, even though he isn’t a resident of the district?”
The race is a rematch of a Special Election, which took place last June. Jacobs beat McMurray by 8,087 votes. Republicans hold a 39%-30.5% enrollment advantage over Democrats in the district.
All candidates in the race, including Libertarian Duane Whitmer, have taken note of the early voting turnout across the district, which includes all or part of eight counties stretching from Niagara to Ontario.
“I think there is enthusiasm on both sides,” said Jacobs. “I think that people are going to come out now all the way through the week, all the way until Election Day. I think most everybody is going to be voting this election.”
McMurray says he’s encouraged his supporters to vote early.
“If more people vote, it’s better for us,” he said. “So we want more democracy and more voices to be heard. So we’ve tried to push people out early, as early as possible. It’s been part of our strategy from the get-go.”
Whitmer, who also plans to vote on Election Day, is concerned that early voting tends to negatively impact third party candidates. He said the turnout has forced him to adjust his campaign strategy.
“There’s a lot of people who probably voted and saw me on the ballot and had no idea who I was,” the Libertarian said.
“We’ve done some Facebook ads. We’ve done some last second ads, a last second surge in door-hanging, just to make sure people know about me if they’re voting early,” he added.
A record number of people are expected to vote by absentee ballot this year as well, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.