ITHACA, N.Y. –– Voting sites throughout Tompkins County saw voters flock to cast their ballots Tuesday, but in the heart of downtown Ithaca polling places had lines that moved slow and steady throughout the day.
Devra Rivkin, a long-time poll site manager at Southside Community Center, said that previous years saw higher day-of turnout.
“Usually during a presidential election we have an influx of voters and because of the early voting, we’ve had a very low turnout,” said Rivkin. “It’s really hard to say. Is it just people voted early or they’re just deciding not to vote?”
Rivkin believes the low turnout is due to the high number of early voters in Tompkins County and throughout the nation, but is still concerned about the shift.
“The only thing really is just not knowing if we’re going to get a drop in people (voting) or not,” Rivkin said.
In addition to early voting, there has also been a high rate of absentee voting in Tompkins County –– approximately 11,000 people have returned absentee ballots as of Tuesday. However, as misinformation continues to spread regarding the reliability of mail-in voting, many have chosen to still cast their ballots in person.
Harmony Malone, who works at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, said that she decided to vote in-person partially due to concerns about mail-in voting.
“There’s something that makes it very real when you are in-person versus sending it in the mail and having the potential of it getting lost. It just feels more concrete when you’re there and actually submitting the form yourself,” Malone said.
In addition to making up a smaller percentage of in-person voters on Election Day, downtown Ithaca residents were also torn in their enthusiasm for casting their ballot.
Harmony Malone in particular was passionate about making her voice heard.
“The intersectionality of being both a person of color, a woman, with the issues with our President, the current status of everything that’s going on in our world with the pandemic, us trying to fight for our lives and be heard and be seen and recognized and the injustices that have taken place this year. It’s absolutely necessary (to vote),” Malone said.
On the other hand, voter Shariah Payne said that she is anxious for the results of the Presidential election, and doesn’t feel passionately about either candidate.
“I think I’m anxious for the country as a whole because no matter what the results are, there are going to be divides. So the results won’t really change anything,” Payne said. “Personally, I don’t really see either candidate or either side more fit than the other. However, I do think one side has more care for all of the people than the other one.”
Polls close at 9 p.m. tonight and initial returns for local races will begin coming in at 10 p.m. However, Tompkins County voters may not know the outcome of the local elections until mid-November as massive amounts of absentee ballots won’t begin to be counted until Nov. 10.