ITHACA, NY – It remains to be seen if the controversial 2016 election will set any records for mobilizing Tompkins voters — but early trends show it is at least keeping pace with the current record-holder for turnout — the 2008 election that saw Barack Obama defeat John McCain.

The Tompkins Board of Elections collects numbers from their polling stations at noon, 3 p.m and 6 p.m before taking a final tally once the polls close. So far, several districts are showing turnout that is similar to what was seen during the 2008 general election, which was the highest turnout the county has seen according to Tompkins Board of Elections Commissioner Steve DeWitt.

As of 12 p.m., 19761 Tompkins residents have cast their ballots throughout the county. It’s a bit difficult to compare directly to 2008, since DeWitt says they do not have numbers for about 15 to 20 percent of the districts for that year. Not accounting for the missing districts, 2008 saw 15,800. While it can’t be said with certainty, DeWitt estimated that the numbers for 2008 and 2016 were probably quite close.

Almost every polling district has seen at least 25 percent of their registered voters come to vote, while some districts including some Danby, Dryden, Ithaca’s second ward, Ulysses and a handful in the town of Ithaca have already seen turnouts of 40 percent or higher.

Let’s take a closer look at some specific polling stations to get a better picture:

In the Town of Ithaca, Districts 4 and 11, 934 people had voted by noon in 2008, making for a pretty substantial drop to this year’s 784. 42 percent of registered voters have voted in those districts.

In the Town of Newfield, there was a slight bump — from 1041 voters at noon in 2008 and 1060 this year.

In the Town of Enfield was another close one, with 682 voters in 2008 down to 664 this year.

The picture on the ground may be a little different than the numbers tell. A pool worker at the Titus Towers polling station said that the location saw a morning rush that left lines stretching down the hall. Her station had seen 500 people by noon, she compared that to the turnout for this year’s presidential primary, which she said drew a little over 600 people total — “And we’ve still got 10 hours to go,” she said.

Polling locations in Tompkins close at 9 p.m., and DeWitt says final results can be expected around 10:30 p.m.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.