For the first time ever, New Yorkers will be casting ballots well ahead of next month’s Election Day. 

But Somers residents, who normally vote in one of 18 neighborhood polling places, would all have to go to town hall to take part in making this electoral history.

Countywide, the Westchester Board of Elections has designated 17 sites for the early voting, at locations most often different from a resident’s customary Election Day site. The polls will open Saturday, Oct. 26, and continue to welcome voters daily through Sunday, Nov. 3. 

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Voters from two towns will share the single Somers site. Besides hosting its own voters, Somers town hall will accommodate all of North Salem’s residents. Town hall located at the Elephant Hotel, 335 Route 202, where it meets Route 100.

On the traditional Tuesday Election Day—this year it’s Nov. 5—voting would revert to those 18 customary polling places around town for anyone who chose not to vote early. 

Whether voting early or not casting ballots until 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 an upcoming issue.

To vote early, visit Somers town hall 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.

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 also 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.