For the first time ever, New Yorkers will be casting ballots well ahead of next month’s Election Day.
But voters in North Salem will have to go to Somers if they want to join in this electoral history.
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 remain open daily through Sunday, Nov. 3. North Salem residents will go to Somers town hall—the Elephant Hotel—at 335 Route 202, where it joins Route 100 in downtown Somers.
On the traditional Tuesday Election Day—this year it’s Nov. 5—those who chose not to vote early will still have their customary location around town.
Whether voting early or casting ballots on Election Day, voters this year will choose from among the candidates for town office, County Legislature, and judicial posts. This newspaper will publish a detailed look at the contests in the coming weeks.
To vote early, visit the Somers polling place at these times:
• Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26, 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.
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. Cuomo signed legislation directing a number of electoral reforms. In addition to early voting, they mandate same-day primaries, actions intended to make voting easier and, in the case of primaries, to save money.
Early 2019 voting, expected to be lighter than the turnout likely 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 to cast a ballot in the most convenient polling place. Under the kind of scenario envisaged for e-books, a North Salem 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 being trained on 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.
“Anything can happen with a new system,” he said.
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.
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. As it does in any election, the county will also pick up the overtime and other expenses of early voting.
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.