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Next time, have early voting in Tri-Lakes

When early voting made its debut in New York state last year, there was some discussion about how many early polling sites Franklin and Essex counties should have. The new option wasn’t expected to be all that popular, and the county boards of elections weren’t sure about security details, so it made sense when they decided to start slowly and have just one early voting site each: at the Franklin County Courthouse in Malone and the Essex County Public Safety Building in Lewis.

That worked — then. The 2019 election featured mostly local races, and early voting was not very popular, with just a few dozen people taking advantage of it in each county.

This year, however, is a different animal. It is a presidential election, which guarantees higher voter turnout, and with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, many people don’t feel safe waiting in line indoors to vote on Election Day. But as it turns out, many find they have to wait in line for early voting, too — often outdoors in the cold and wet. That is far from ideal, both for public safety and for early voting’s entire purpose: expanded service and convenience, making it easier to vote.

The Tri-Lakes villages are a long way from either early polling place — generally a drive of 45 minutes to an hour each way — but we personally know many people who have done it or plan to do it, for the sole purpose of early voting.

This clearly demonstrates that each county needs multiple early voting sites in the future: at least for presidential elections every four years, probably for midterm congressional and state elections every two years, and perhaps every year.

At the very least the counties should add an early voting site in each Tri-Lakes village.

The people have spoken with their gas money that they like early voting, and therefore county election commissioners must find a way to recognize their good citizenship and serve them closer to where they are.

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