KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) — “The turnout we had today was remarkable,” Erie County Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr told News 4, as the numbers for the first day of early voting rolled in. “We had 600 people in the first 30 minutes of early voting.”

Voting sites throughout Erie County noticed an uptick in early voters this year, and according to Mohr, some counties throughout New York State, already have exceeded presidential race turnouts.

“The only time we’ve seen these numbers exceeded is the presidential primary of 2020,” said Mohr. “There’s a great deal of enthusiasm for the congressional seats, and there’s a great deal of enthusiasm at the state level for both the legislative leaders and also the governor’s race.”

And the polls saw this enthusiasm on the first day of early voting.

“I think it’s a very important election, and a lot of people are fed up,” said David Fioretti, a voting inspector at the Kenmore Municipal Building polling site, who said the numbers they’ve seen are a lot more than usual — and a lot of people want change. “People are just tired of paying high gas prices, they’re tired of high costs of living, food, and they are definitely tired of the high crime.”

“Abortion rights, that’s what’s gotten me out here, really today.” Ann Linderman, a Kenmore resident who came out to vote on Saturday said.

According to the Erie County Board of Elections, over 8,000 voters showed up to vote on the first day of early voting.

“People have got to come out and vote,” said 95-year-old John Long, “American means an awful lot to me, because fortunately for some reason, God spared my life and sent me back home. Let’s remember there’s 400 thousand kids that never came home, so that we could have these privileges today — and the greatest privilege is to be able to come and vote.”

Long is a World War II veteran, and decided to vote early on Saturday. He wants everyone, especially the younger generations, to do their civic duty and vote.

“Maybe in some way, I’m trying to encourage everybody to be sure that they come out and vote. We cannot have anyone stay at home in this election, there’s so much at stake in this election for America,” Long said. “We as World War II veterans fought to keep this the greatest country of the world, and we want it to stay that way.”

Early voting started Saturday, Oct. 29, and will continue until Nov. 6.

Early voting sites are open Noon – 9 p.m. on weeknights, and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. during the weekends. There are 38 early voting sites across the county, and voters can pick any site to go to.

Voters can also wait to vote on Election Day, at their designated polling stations, from 6am until 9 p.m.

For more information on ways to vote this year, and find a polling place to go to the Erie County Board of Elections website here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.