Welcome back to #wonkywednesday. Each week I take a deep dive into the registration and election data that makes up our home, Onondaga County. This week I continue my 4-week look back at the June 28, 2022, primary. This year we have two primaries because of the disastrous redistricting process in New York. On August 23rd, 2022, we will have the primaries for Congress and NY Senate. However, we just certified the June primary where Onondaga County held Democratic and Republican primaries for Governor, a Democratic primary for Lt. Governor, and members of the Pompey Town GOP Committee. In other parts of New York Assembly primaries happened as well, but we had none in Onondaga County. This week I will examine Absentee & Affidavit Balloting during the June 2022 Primary.
There are major changes for absentee balloting in 2022 that will undoubtedly affect the way voters interact with this election method. The major change is in the way absentee ballots are canvassed in 2022. We no longer are the last state in the nation to canvass absentee ballots as we now canvass them as they are returned and report on Election Night. This is down from 7 to 15 days after Election Day would we even start to canvass absentees. This along with several pieces of legislation makes it harder for absentees to be discarded by technicalities or challenged by unscrupulous campaigns. Finally, the pandemic excuse for absentee balloting remains in place in 2022. Starting in the August primary all absentee ballots will be postage paid also making it easier to return absentees as well.
Absentees, like Early Voting, is more used by Democrats than republicans even in primary elections. In the June 2022 primary 2,628 absentee ballots were returned out of 4944 issued. Of the returned ballots 1829 or 70% were Democrats and 799 or 30% were Republicans. Democrats requested more absentees and returned them at a higher rate than the GOP in this primary. Of all the absentees requested, 2601 were successfully returned and cast (53%). 2152 Absentees were never returned (43%). 146 Absentees were returned by the US mail undeliverable (3%). Only forty-five absentees were returned but ruled invalid (1%). The biggest reason, by far, an absentee was not counted is because it was never returned in the first place.
Despite the failure of the no-excuse absentee ballot amendment last year, absentee balloting remains popular. The 2022 June Primary was the highest requested and returned primary since 2017 with the exception of 2020. In the heights of the COVID pandemic and a combined presidential and congressional primaries Onondaga County saw a huge surge of absentees in the June 2020 primary. This also plays out when we look at the percentage of overall votes cast. The pandemic excuse allowing voters to choose temporary illness is inflating absentee numbers in 2020, 2021, and 2022. However, many voters are also choosing to become permanent absentees such as older voters. While we may not see an explosion of absentees, we could see a steady rise as voters no longer fear their ballots to be rejected.
Affidavit ballots is the last alternate form of voting other than absentee and Early Voting. Affidavit balloting is used by voters who either do not appear on the registration rolls or have what they believe to be incorrect information such as address or party registrations. For the June primary we issued two hundred affidavit ballots during Early Voting and on Election Day at our various poll sites. Democrats accounted 118 affidavits or 59% and the GOP accounted for 82 Affidavits or 41%. Of the Democratic Affidavits 102 were ruled good and sixteen ruled no good. Of the Republican affidavits forty-six were ruled good and thirty-six were ruled no good.
During primaries, the main reason affidavit ballots are ruled no good is voters who believe they are enrolled in a political party attempt to cast a ballot. Of the 52 Affidavit ballots ruled no good, forty-four were voters not enrolled in the party they chose to cast a ballot in. Most of these were voters not enrolled in the GOP attempting to cast ballots in the GOP primary which accounts for the disparity in the two party’s valid vs invalid affidavits. Of the forty-five absentee ballots ruled invalid twenty-six were ballots who did not respond to a cure notice that had deficiencies in filling out their absentees. Another sixteen had missing or untimely postmarks. Only three were ruled invalid during the canvassing process. This is a substantial difference then in previous elections.
Starting in August the #wonkywendesday series will be renamed the #WeeklyWonk and releasing on the weekends. This will allow me more time to get data and branch out with some editorial content on election reform. So, stay tuned for future articles.