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Saranac Lake election is today

Polls open from noon to 9 p.m.; results may take hours to count

A voter fills out her ballot in the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake in September 2018. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

SARANAC LAKE — Today is Election Day in this village, when voters choose two people for four-year terms on the village Board of Trustees, but this is not an ordinary village vote.

Four men are running for those two seats, although only three are on the ballot. Fred Balzac is running on the Green Party line, and incumbents Tom Catillaz and Rich Shapiro are running on the Democratic Party line. Trevor Sussey, a registered Democrat, is running as a write-in candidate.

Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. at the Harrietstown Town Hall, 39 Main St. Absentee ballots must be received today in order to be counted.

Absentee ballots are increasingly popular as people avoid public gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. New York and the village have allowed anyone to file an absentee ballot due to the pandemic. As of around 10 a.m. Monday, village Clerk Kareen Tyler said she had received 261 absentee ballots.

These sealed ballots will not be turned over to election inspectors and counted until after polls close at 9 p.m., Tyler said. With so many to count, she estimated the final results of the election might not be known until after midnight.

This will be too late for the Enterprise to publish election results in its Wednesday print edition, but the Enterprise will publish results on its website as soon as possible, likely early Wednesday morning.

This election was originally scheduled for March 18 but was postponed as the pandemic hit that month. At that time there were only three candidates: Balzac, Catillaz and Shapiro. Only 18 people showed up at a debate the Enterprise hosted between them on March 10, indicating that interest in the election was low.

Much has changed since then, and the race has heated up considerably. A new progressive political action group, the High Peaks chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, endorsed Balzac and then Sussey when he entered the race, and has actively campaigned for them. DSA members have also been attending village board meetings and speaking out, criticizing board decisions. Yard signs for the candidates, especially Shapiro and Catillaz, have sprung up all over the village; there were few, if any, just before the original election date in March. The Enterprise has published several dozen letters to the editor endorsing village candidates in recent weeks; it published eight prior to the March election date.

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