OSWEGO — The kickoff to election season 2020 is here after as hectic a buildup ever seen in the Empire State.
Starting in January 2019, the New York Legislature has passed bill after bill expanding access to voting, resulting in once-in-a-generation reform and consolidation of state Board of Elections policy.
“It has been challenging working with all the uncertainty but we feel a sense of accomplishment,” said Oswego County Board of Elections Commissioner Laura Brazak.
Just a sampling of new New York voting laws include expanded access to absentee ballots, expanded polling hours and the institution of an early voting program. And all of that was before COVID-19.
With governments increasingly turning to by-mail elections, the Oswego County Board of Elections (BOE) had to adapt quickly.
“The Oswego BOE sent out over 37,000 applications for absentee ballots and issued almost 9,000 ballots,” said Brazak. “It has definitely been a team effort with all hands on deck!”
Total ballots cast during early voting have dropped this year, the second year of the program that allows people to vote at their local BOE on specific days prior to Election Day. Brazak attributes the decline to the pandemic, but said the counts were still “respectable.”
New York is a closed primary state, meaning voters must be registered to a party to cast a ballot in that party’s primary.
Today’s primary election will contest the following offices:
President of the United States
22nd Congressional District
24th Congressional District
State Committee, 24th Cong. Dist.
State Committee, 5th Judicial Dist.
While all Democrats will vote for the same candidates for president, the congressional district in which they live determines what delegates appear on the ballot connected to each candidate. For clarity, the towns and cities in each district are listed below:
22nd Congressional District: Towns of Albion, Amboy, Boylston, Constantia, Hastings, Mexico, New Haven (Districts 1 & 2 only), Orwell, Parish, Redfield, Richland, Sandy Creek, West Monroe, Williamstown.
24th Congressional District: Towns of Granby, Hannibal, Minetto, New Haven (District 3 only), Oswego Town, Palermo, Schroeppel, Scriba, Volney, cities of Oswego and Fulton.
For example: A Democrat living in Mexico will be able to vote for the same presidential candidate (ex: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders) as a Democrat living in the city of Oswego, but they will cast votes for different delegate candidates.
Republicans in the 22nd Congressional District will choose between former U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, who represented the district from 2017-2019, and Binghamton educator George Phillips. The winner will advance to meet U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D, Utica, in the general election. Brindisi defeated Tenney in 2018 to take over the seat.
Democrats in the 24th Congressional District will pick their fighter versus U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, in November: Dana Balter or Francis Conole. Balter as the 2018 Dem nominee came within a 2.5 percent swing of defeating Katko, while Conole is a Syracuse native and former Navy officer. State party committee elections will also be held for the Serve America Movement (SAM) Party 5th Judicial District (countywide) and the Conservative Party (24th District).
Elections officials caution: due to the number of absentees, vote totals reported tonight will be unofficial.
Polls are open today from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, go to oswegocounty.com and navigate to the Board of Elections section.