For the first time ever, New Yorkers will be casting ballots well ahead of next month’s Election Day. But voters in Katonah will have to go to Mount Kisco if they want to join in this electoral history while Lewisboro residents will journey to Pound Ridge.
The Westchester Board of Elections has designated 17 locations for early voting starting Saturday, Oct. 26. The polls—their locations will most often differ from a resident’s customary place to vote—will be open daily through Sunday, Nov. 3. Everyone in Bedford, including the town’s Katonah residents, will go to Mount Kisco’s village/town hall, 104 Main St., if they want to do their voting early. Lewisboro voters can cast ballots at the Pound Ridge Town House, 179 Westchester Ave.
Lizette Hernandez, secretary to Village Manager Edward W. Brancati, said Mount Kisco was ready to host its Bedford neighbors. “At this moment, we don’t have any concerns,” she said at the end of last week.
On the traditional Tuesday Election Day—this year it’s Nov. 5—those who chose not to vote early can visit their customary polling location.
Whether voting early or waiting until Election Day, voters this year will choose from among the candidates for town office, County Legislature and judicial posts.
To vote early, visit the Mount Kisco polling place at these times:
• Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26 and 27: noon to 5 p.m.
• Monday, Oct. 28: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, Oct. 29: noon to 8 p.m.
• Wednesday, Oct. 30: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Thursday, Oct. 31: noon to 8 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 1: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2 and 3: noon to 5 p.m.
With time running down before the early polls open, things like where people can vote were still being decided late last week at the Board of Elections.
“We’re all rolling with the punches, because this is a new thing,” a person familiar with this year’s rollout said.
Most of the nation—38 states and the District of Columbia—was already voting early when New York this year embraced the practice. In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation directing a number of electoral reforms. In addition to early voting, they mandate same-day primaries. The actions were taken, aides said, to make voting easier and, in the case of primaries, to save money.
Early 2019 voting, expected to be lighter than the turnout for next year’s presidential race, is seen as something of a test run for 2020, with new technology potentially changing the way we vote.
Electronic polling books, which digitally duplicate the county’s master voter registration roll, make it possible not only to vote early but also to cast a ballot in the most convenient polling place. Under the kind of scenario envisaged for e-books, a Katonah or Lewisboro resident who works in White Plains, let’s say, could wind up voting in that city on a lunch hour.
Board of Elections staffers are now training to use the e-books, with the hope—but not any certainty—that they could get a tryout in this year’s early voting, Democratic Elections Commissioner Douglas LaFayette said this week.
Still, he cautioned, “anything can happen with a new system.”
If practical experience validates the e-books’ theoretical potential, they could replace the paper books local poll workers have used over the years to check in voters. Since those paper books contain only the registrations in a specific election district, voters could cast an in-person ballot only in the district in which they had registered.
As it does in any election, the county will pick up the overtime and other expenses of early voting. “We’re not incurring any cost here,” Hernandez said of Mount Kisco’s operations.
To recover the expenses related to early voting, including buying the e-poll books, Westchester will be able to tap a $24 million fund made available by the state to reimburse counties.
The state Board of Elections put e-poll books to the test in pilot projects elsewhere in the state. It also assessed whether they met required standards for things like networking and security.