Monroe County elections officials react to coronavirus curveballs 

Last month, state elections officials canceled the Democratic presidential primary, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres ruled that the primary must happen on June 23.

It was  the latest shift in an unusual election season that has left Monroe County Board of Elections officials, like its acting Democratic commissioner, LaShana Boose, scrambling to adapt.

With a little over a month before early voting starts, Boose said the board was already planning to send out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters as a result of an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 
click to enlarge Monroe County Board of Elections Acting Democratic Commissioner LaShana Boose - FILE PHOTO
  • Monroe County Board of Elections Acting Democratic Commissioner LaShana Boose

“We are hoping they will touch voters by the end of this week, early next week,” Boose said.

Once an application is returned, a voter gets a ballot for the presidential and local races in the mail, which needs to be filled out and mailed back to the board of elections. Applications must be postmarked by June 16.

Complicating things is Torres’ order, which Boose said was likely to increase voter turnout.

For those who choose to vote in person, Boose said her office is working on protocols to keep them and poll workers safe.

“We have been working very feverishly in the board to ensure that this election is administered despite all the challenges that are going on with COVID-19,” said Boose. “There’s a number of criteria that we’re looking to make sure that we’re safeguarding the public and our election inspectors.”

Among the new protocols are requiring masks for poll workers, increased cleaning, and potentially larger polling sites.

Boose said one of the positives of early voting in this situation is that it spreads out when people vote in person, preventing lines and making it easier to clean voting machines, tables, and chairs.

Here's when early voting for the primary races is taking place in Monroe County:

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 13.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 14.
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, June 15.
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 16.
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 17.
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 18.
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, June 19.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 21.

Here are the early voting locations:

City of Rochester Recreation Bureau, 57 St. Paul St., second floor, Rochester.
David F. Gantt Community Center, 700 North St., Rochester.
Arnett Branch Library, 310 Arnett Blvd., Rochester.
City of Rochester Water Department, 10 Felix St., Rochester.
SUNY Empire State College, 680 Westfall Road, Brighton.
St. Christopher's Church, 3350 Union St., Chili.
North Greece Road Church of Christ, 1039 N. Greece Road, Greece.
Marketplace Mall, 1 Miracle Mile Drive, Henrietta.
Irondequoit Town Hall, 1280 Titus Ave., Irondequoit.
Penfield Town Hall, 3100 Atlantic Ave., Penfield.
Perinton Square Mall, 6720 Pittsford Palmyra Road, Perinton.
Sweden-Clarkson Community Center, 4927 S. Lake Road, Brockport.
Webster Recreation Center, 1350 Chiyoda Drive, Webster.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. HE can be reached at [email protected].
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