Thousands cast ballots in first week
New York offered early voting this year for the first time, and its citizens responded: During the past week, thousands of Dutchess and Putnam voters cast ballots ahead of the Tuesday general election, according to county officials.
By 3 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 31), a total of 4,885 Dutchess County voters had cast ballots, including 1,578 at Fishkill Town Hall, the nearest polling station for Beacon voters, said Beth Soto, a commissioner with the county Board of Elections. Dutchess has 183,774 registered voters.
In Putnam, as of mid-afternoon Thursday, 922 voters had cast ballots at the county’s only early-voting site, at the Board of Elections office in Carmel, said Catherine Croft, an election commissioner. The early voters included 36 from Philipstown, she added. Putnam has 64,373 voters.
A state law enacted this year allows nine days of early voting, which end this weekend. The Fishkill site will be open on Saturday (Nov. 2), from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday (Nov. 3), from noon to 5 p.m. The Carmel location for Putnam voters is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days.
Early votes will be counted after the polls close at 9 p.m. on Nov. 5.
In Dutchess, early voting “has been running as smooth as silk,” Soto said on Wednesday.
Croft said that most early voters in Putnam had come from the eastern side of the county. “It’s a bit of a trek” from areas such as Philipstown, she said. Locating early polling stations in other parts of the county next year is a possibility, although “money is an issue,” she said. Nonetheless, she thinks “it could be done economically” and has asked county officials to consider it.