Tompkins voter turnout Sept. 13 2018

UPDATE (5 p.m. Friday): A full count of votes cast is now available from the Tompkins County Board of Elections. New information has been added to this article to reflect current data. 

Tompkins County, N.Y. – Voters flocked to the polls across Tompkins County on Thursday. By the time polls closed at 9 p.m., 39 percent of registered Democrats had cast ballots.

That number is 19 percentage points higher than total turnout in 2014’s state primary, the last non-presidential year primary election.

Kathy Zahler, director of communications for the Tompkins County Democratic Committee, said she was not surprised to see high turnout.

“I think people are starting to realize what those of us in the party have known forever – it’s primaries and midterms where you can generate real change,” she said.

Statewide contests for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general drew high turnout across New York. In 2014, just under 600,000 voters cast ballots in the Democratic state primary. Yesterday’s unofficial count from the state Board of Elections shows just over 1.5 million ballots cast. That count puts statewide turnout at about 27 percent.

The logistics of this year’s primary were unusual. Elections are typically held on Tuesdays, but Rosh Hashanah and the September 11 anniversary pushed this year’s to a Thursday. In addition, polling places outside New York City had reduced hours. In Tompkins and throughout upstate, polls did not open until noon. These changes did not appear to dampen turnout, however.

Zahler said the county’s Democratic Committee sees the late primary as an opportunity to keep voters’ enthusiasm high going into November. “We’re trying to keep the momentum going and having a late primary helps do that,” she said.

She said the party committee has been registering more voters than usual and is seeing a lot of excitement. Unlike past years, she said, they are encouraging students in the county to vote locally rather than in their home districts. “We’re telling college students we need their votes here,” she said.

While turnout was up in general across the county, it varied between election districts.  By the Board of Elections’ unofficial count, the lowest turnout was 17 percent in the City of Ithaca’s 5-3 election district, which includes much of the Cornell campus. The county’s highest turnout was in the Town of Ithaca’s 7th district, which includes the senior living community Kendal at Ithaca, where 55 percent of registered Democrats cast ballots.

The map below offers a close look at where Democratic Party voters turned out in Tompkins. Larger circles represent higher voter counts. Darker blue represents higher turnout percentages. Hover over a polling place for detailed information.

This map was updated at 5 p.m. Friday to reflect new information from the Board of Elections.

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.