State reps: If Onondaga County won't expand early voting, we'll pass legislation

Robert Harding - Auburn Pub

May 28, 2021

If Onondaga County doesn't add more early voting locations this year, a group of state and local legislators said Thursday that they will push for a legislative solution. 

 

Since early voting began in 2019, the county has set up six polling locations — the minimum required by law. Counties must have one polling location for every 50,000 registered voters. Onondaga has over 319,000 registered voters. 

Dustin Czarny, the Democratic elections commissioner in Onondaga County, pushed for additional sites in 2019 and again last year. But Michele Sardo, the Republican elections commissioner, has opposed expanding the number of locations. 

Onondaga County Legislator Mary Kuhn, who joined four state lawmakers — state Sens. John Mannion and Rachel May, plus Assemblymembers Bill Magnarelli and Al Stirpe — at a press conference at Onondaga Community College, said she will introduce a resolution to add more early voting sites. The new sites would be at Cicero Town Hall, Lysander Town Hall, the John H. Mulroy Civic Center in Syracuse, and the community college. 

The resolution will likely fail in the Republican-led county Legislature. And it doesn't appear that Sardo will change her position this year, although she hasn't ruled out expanding sites in the future. 

If the county doesn't act, the state representatives are ready to move legislation in Albany. There is a bill that would mandate counties to have at least one early voting site for every 35,000 registered voters. If it's approved by the state Legislature and signed by the governor, Onondaga County would be required to have at least nine early voting sites. 

Mannion, a Democrat who represents parts of Cayuga and Onondaga counties, compared how the counties he represents fared during early voting in 2020. While Onondaga had six early voting sites for 319,000 registered voters — one for every 53,166 voters — Cayuga had three for about 50,000 voters. 

Onondaga County had the fewest early voting sites among the most populous counties in the state. 

"There were long lines, long waits and I personally heard of people in line for early voting for more than two hours," he said. "That's a problem." 

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