October 21, 2021

Amid virus pandemic, local voters go to polls

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Sarah Thomson, left, and Chris Chiara walk Tuesday to vote at Beaudry park in Cortland. Nearly one-third of Cortland County’s registered voters either voted early or returned absentee ballots before the dawn of Election Day.

There were no long lines for voting Tuesday at Cortland’s Beaudry Park. Every now and then, a car would arrive, people would get out and enter the building next to the playground, coming out a few minutes later having voted.

Almost a third of Cortland County voters had already voted by mail or in-person through early voting, many of those who hadn’t already voted did so the old fashioned way on Election Day.

The reasons varied by voter.

“I’m a younger person and I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal if I came out and voted today,” Nate Johnson said.

Johnson, 23, said he chose to vote in-person on Election Day as he felt that with the coronavirus pandemic happening, older voters would be voting early so he would be fine voting on Election Day proper. The biggest issues he was concerned with were COVID-19, race relations and criminal reform.

While there have been some concerns nationally about unrest among voters at polls, Johnson said people should remain calm.

“I think we should wait and see what happens,” he said. “It’s how an election goes. It’s the will of the people. If they vote Biden, they vote Biden. If they vote Trump, they vote Trump. We got to accept that and work through it.”

As of midday Tuesday, Cortland police had responded to one disturbance at a polling site, Lt. David Guerrera said.

Around 12:30 p.m., a man became angry and started yelling at poll workers at the Beaudry Park location for refusing to remove a Donald Trump hat he was wearing, Guerrera said. The man was asked to leave, which he did before police arrived.

Sarah Thomson said she voted Tuesday because when she had tried several times to vote early, she left because of the long lines.

She felt mid-morning Tuesday was a good time to go.

“I’m electrically nervous,” she said. If her chosen candidates lose, she said she’s “just trying to get through today. That’s kind of the way it is with the pandemic.”

At the Tompkins Cortland Community College extension building on Main Street in Cortland, Crystal Roberts said she voted Tuesday as she was too busy with work and moving to vote by mail or do early in-person voting. It also helped that Tuesday was her day off.

Roberts said racial equality and the manner of how public officials acted helped determine who she voted for.

No matter who wins, Roberts said she’ll accept the results.

“I can’t change the results, no matter what happens,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

The Cortland County Board of Elections reported it sent out 5,322 absentee ballots; 4,435 had been returned by Tuesday.

Of those, 2,526 ballots were sent to enrolled Democratic voters with 2,175 returned; 1,553 were sent to enrolled Republicans, with 1,271 returned. Another 942 were sent to unaffiliated 736 returned.

Over the nine days of early vote, 4,737 people cast their ballots: 2,011 Democrats, 1,450 Republicans and 218 unaffiliated voters, according to the board.

Cortland County has 28,749 active voters, with 9,158 enrolled Democrats, 10,355 enrolled Republicans and 1,543 independent voters, according to the state Board of Elections.