The Weekly Wonk: Early Voting in the August 2022 Primary

Welcome to the #weeklywonk. This is my weekly blog about statistics, registration data, and election law on my website, dustinczarny.com. This is a rebrand of my #wonkywednesday and #sundaythoughts columns I have been writing since 2020. In merging these two side projects together I am hoping to be a little more regular in my production. I have also not tied myself to a particular day to release these columns, hoping to release them weekly on the weekend. This way I can have more time to gather the statistics and resources that I want to devote to these articles. This week I start my look back at the August 23rd Congressional and State Senate Primary with a breakdown of #EarlyVoting.

#EarlyVoting is the newest form of voting in New York State having been adopted in 2019. However, this is only the fourth primary election with #EarlyVoting as it went into effect with the general election in November 2019. Though we had four primary elections in Onondaga County with #EarlyVoting, this year’s back-to-back June & August primaries are the only ones with county wide primaries for both GOP and Democratic candidates. The 2020 combined Presidential and local primaries in Onondaga County were only for Democratic candidate’s county wide with the GOP only having a small Assembly primary. The 2021 Primary had both Democratic and GOP candidates, but it was only the City of Syracuse. However, we now have four elections to see the trend for #earlyVoting and how primary voters react to this reform.

For the August 2023 Primary we had 4154 #EarlyVoters. Of the overall #EarlyVoting pool we see that 75% of those who participated were Democratic (3115), 24% were GOP (1008), and the Conservatives had 1% of the electorate (31). Onondaga County deployed eight #EarlyVoting locations for the August primary, the same as the June one. Once again Dewitt Town Hall (1275) was the largest #EarlyVoting location followed by Clay Town Hall (862. This order has been the same for seven of the eight elections, both primary and general elections since the start of Early Voting. OCC Mulroy Hall (579) continued its third-place ranking and the best “new “#early Voting spot. Armond Magnarelli (4040) and Lysander Town Hall (340) rounds out the midsize EV spots. The bottom three remain Lafayette Fire Station (254), Syracuse Community Connections (244) And Beauchamp Library (198).

This is the fourth primary with #earlyVoting as an option and we are seeing a definitive growth in use. The August 23rd Primary was the best performance for #EarlyVoting in a primary yet. With 4154 total voters it was a over a 50% increase from June 2022 primary (2761). It is not just about raw votes either. The August Primary #EarlyVote was 12.3% of the voter turnout. This was nearly a 15% increase from June 2022 Primary (10.71%). This makes the August 23rd Primary the best performance for #earlyVoting in a primary in Onondaga County.

If we look at Early Voting by site, we see that Dewitt and Clay continued their traditional top performance in the August 2022 primary. Though I have included the 2020 and 2021 data here, I find it more enlightening to see where there may be growths between June and August. These two primaries provide the best comparison since the same electorate. When looking at the percentage of the electorate Dewitt Town Hall made the most gain in Early voting increasing its share of the electorate by 1.92%. However, Beauchamp Library, though the least in raw votes in both elections, showed a significant growth in the electorate at +.97%. OCC Mulroy Hall also increased its vote share at .79%. The biggest loser in vote share was Clay Town Hall at -1.43%, Armond Magnarelli at -.91% and Lafayette Fire Station -.81%. Since the substantial changes don’t seem to be close to each other geographically the changes are more likely a result in the slight increase in turnout in the August primary coming from different areas of the county than in June.

The August Primary once again continues the pattern that the City of Syracuse and towns that host #EarlyVoting centers show a higher percentage of use of these facilities. Raw Vote totals still tend to follow overall population with notable exceptions. Syracuse, Clay, and Manlius are the top performers but Dewitt well overperforms higher population towns like Salina, Cicero, & Lysander. The percentage of Turnout really brings this to light as Dewitt has the highest percentage of #EarlyVotes of their eligible population. Lafayette though is second as the Town of Lafayette voters used their EV center at the second highest rate. Other towns with EV sites like Clay, Lysander, Onondaga, and the City of Syracuse outperformed towns that do not have EV sites. The exception of this rule continues to be the Town of Manlius, however the location of Dewitt Town Hall on the border of Manlius and Dewitt gives those citizens a remarkably close EV option they are definitely taking advantage of.

I am introducing a new way of tracking #EarlyVoting with this #WeeklyWonk. With four primaries under our belt, we can now track EV performance by individual parties as well. Critics of #EarlyVoting point to it servicing a small percentage of voters. They are not wrong, especially with primaries. However, they are not right either. They leave out that primaries themselves only service 10-15% of all voters and that #EarlyVoting outnumbers absentee voting as a voter option. They also conveniently forget to point out that by a metric, #earlyvotingisgrowing. 2.69% of registered Democrats used #EarlyVotingbut it was 15.26% of the overall voter turnout. This is up from June (1.77/12.22) and the highest rate yet. The same is true of #EarlyVoting among GOP though it is less in numbers and percentage than Democrats. The August Primary showed 1.23% of enrolled GOP voters and 7.7% of the overall turnout up from June (.89%/5.97%) and another record. We see increased GOP voters are splitting with their party rhetoric and choosing #EarlyVoting as well.

That does it for this edition of the #weeklyWonk. Next week I will continue my look at the August 23rd Primary by diving into the Absentee Voting performance. We will continue looking back at the extra primary the rest of September before we resume the look at voter registrations for the General Election Senate Seats #50 & #48 as well as the towns of Manlius, Onondaga, and Pompey. Check back each week.

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