A record number of nearly 7,000 absentee ballot requests have already piled up at the Chautauqua County Board of Elections with Election Day still eight weeks from this coming Tuesday.
No past presidential cycle has found much more than 4,000 absentee ballot applications for the county, out of its current 77,758 registered active voter total. Commissioners expect that 70% of county voters (55,000) will turnout this year.
The board, which is one of just five of sixty-two counties statewide that prints its ballots in-house, will be mailing absentee ballots starting Friday Sept. 18th and every business day thereafter when a timely application is received before Election Day.
It is an extremely complicated process to send out absentee ballots and that is why the board ordered 60,000 printed envelopes, since each ballot needs three envelopes when it goes out: a labeled envelope for the mailing of the ballot, an envelope to return the voted ballot and the actual security envelope holding the ballot.
With the record number of absentee requests already received and the totals expected to increase, Commissioners Norman P. Green and Brian C. Abram are expecting workers will be at the board six days a week processing returned absentee ballots.
“We have brought on extra staff and our regular workers are kicking it up a notch to ensure that the absentee ballots get out the door on time,” said Abram.
“No voter will be denied the opportunity to vote by mail, as long as they apply now and return their ballots as soon as they are received,” concluded Green.
Voters can apply in a one stop on-line request portal that can be located at votechautauqua.com Also voter can call the elections office at 716-753-4580 daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The elector could also send via mail or fax a hard copy absentee application.
This year voters will find a Chautauqua County unique tracking tool that will allow county citizens to determine their personal voting status and track the application, mailing and receipt of their voted absentee ballot.
“Chris Burt in our office developed the ballot tracking software,” said Green. “The tracking application was developed by Chris during his workday and at no additional cost to the taxpayers.”