The first weekend of early voting in Ulster County turned out more participants that it had in the past and was dominated by Democrats, according to Ulster County Democratic Elections Commissioner Ashley Dittus. “We had combined 4760, which is a new weekend record for us,” said Dittus. “Our first day (Saturday, October 29) was 2708, second 2052. Looking back at 2020, day one was 1869, day two, 2190. Combined it was 4059. So we had just shy of 700 more voters. That’s pretty remarkable.”
According to Dittus, Democrats accounted for 69 percent of early votes; 13 percent were Republicans; 13.5 percent had no party affiliation and the rest are scattered among minor parties.
“We had no lines (at the polls),” she said. “In 2020 we had hour long waits. This weekend nobody had to wait for more than 15 minutes.” Dittus attributed the shorter waiting times to the fact that the number of polling sites was increased from five to six in the county and that weekend hours are now 9 a.m.-5 p.m. She also noted that there were more propositions on the ballot previously, and now there was only one on most ballots.
The largest number of early votes were cast in at the Kingston site in the Mid-Town Neighborhood Center on Broadway. Second most was the New Paltz Community Center, followed by the Saugerties Senior Center. “The other three sites have a steady stream of people.”
Preparing for the counting
After a November 1 decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, elections boards in the state will be able to open and scan — but not count — absentee ballots, in preparation for counting on election day.
The decision reversed one by Saratoga County Judge Diane Freestone on October 21 in a suit brought by Republican and Conservative party plaintiffs seeking to nullify a pandemic-related rule that allowed absentee ballots to be prepared for counting before Election Day. The suit contended that the law clashes with an individual’s constitutional right to challenge ballots in court before they’re counted.
State Attorney General Letitia James and legislative officials filed an appeal by October 24, creating an automatic, temporary hold on the ruling. The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Albany heard oral arguments Tuesday, November 1, one week before Election Day and handed down its decision late that same night.
“In our view, granting petitioners the requested relief during an ongoing election would be extremely disruptive and profoundly destabilizing and prejudicial to candidates, voters and the State and local Boards of Elections,” read the court decision.
“To me this is business as usual,” said Ulster County’s Elections Commissioner, Republican John Quigley. “The court decision says we can run our elections as we have in previous elections.”
Where and when to vote early in Ulster County
Early voting for the November 8 election began October 29 and ends on Sunday, November 6. Now before every election event, any eligible registered voter will have the ability to vote early at any Early Voting Center. When you get to the Early Voting location, you will check in to vote, receive your ballot and vote as in any other election. Voting during early voting is the same as election day, but if you do decide to vote early, you are not eligible to vote on election day.
Early voting sites are:
1. American Legion, 26-28 Mountain Road, Shokan, NY 12481
2. Midtown Neighborhood Center, 467 Broadway Kingston, NY 12401
3. Ellenville Public Library, 40 Center Street, Ellenville, NY 12428
4. New Paltz Community Center, 3 Veterans Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561
5. Marlborough Town Hall, 21 Milton Turnpike, Milton, NY 12547
6. Saugerties Senior Center, 207 Market Street, Saugerties, NY 12477.
Early voting hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., November 2, 4, 5 and 6; and noon-8 p.m. on November 1 and November 3.
If you don’t know where your polling place is, see: https://elections.ulstercountyny.gov and click on the icon that says ‘Polling Sites.’ There are also sample ballots at this site.