(WIVB) – If you have any question about voter turnout or how busy it’ll be on Nov. 3, consider this: The last presidential election in 2016, 27,000 in Erie County cast absentee ballots.
This year, more than triple that have already been requested – and that number is only expected to grow.
There’s a constant hum at the Erie County Board of Elections – and it’s been that way for months.
Now, less than 12 days out from Election Day, that din will only grow as tens of thousands of ballots are received, processed and counted, weeks before Nov. 3.
That’s a good thing, says Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner, because his staff knows they’re on the cusp of the unprecedented.
“I think you’re going to have the same amount of turnout at least, and maybe more for this election, especially given the number of ways people can vote,” Zellner said. “I think you’re going to see people voting in numbers that we haven’t seen in a long time.”
The number of absentee ballots in Erie County alone is expected to be well over 100,000 — and it’s already more than five times what the board of elections saw in all of 2016.
There’s also nine days of early voting starting Saturday- and the rush is expected to continue on Nov. 3.
“There really isn’t any more excuse to say, “jeez, I can’t get there on Election Day” because we have nine days of early voting,” Zellner added. “There’s really no excuse to say “the pandemic’s got me scared” because you can apply for an absentee up until Tuesday, the 27th is the final day.”
Despite the interest, Zellner and other elections officials are not expecting problems at the polls; and they’re batting any talk of an untrustworthy election.
“Our board, in a bipartisan fashion, rejects that there is some widespread voter fraud or that their ballots aren’t going to be counted,” Zellner said. “We count every ballot, every year.”
As for the results, patience will be key, because Election Night could turn into election weeks.