Elections commissioner: ‘When you have a lower turnout, anything can happen’

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Low turnout during this year’s primary was apparent and Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz even called it “terrible.”

Republican elections commissioner Ralph Mohr said while the turnout is disappointing, it wasn’t surprising to see. He said coming off a presidential year into a local year there’s typically lower numbers.

He also said primaries in general tend to be lower. He said anything can happen in a low turnout year. That being said, Mohr said the count isn’t over yet.

He said the Board of Elections still has more than 1,500 absentee ballots to count. More absentees are also able to come in up to seven days after the primary. It may not sound like a lot, but he said there are races that are one or two votes apart.

Mohr said low turnout can impact races significantly, specifically mentioning the mayor race. There are 106,000 city residents registered as Democrats- and he said only around 20,000 voted.

“When you see the very close races and you have the Monday morning quarterbacking of saying, ‘I wish I had gone, maybe next time,’ you’re going to take that opportunity a little more seriously,” he said.

While it’s early to see data on who came out to vote, political science professor Peter Yacobucci said he believes youth turnout was higher than usual and senior turnout lower. He said in the mayor race the progressive movement is reflected. which began several election cycles ago.

“If you want the world to change if you want to make the world better in the way you believe it should be made better, you have to participate and so everbody that voted thank you very much for voting for those of you that didn’t vote, voting has consequences, elections have consequences and as a result Buffalo is gonna have its first socialist mayor ever and the first socialist mayor of a major city in over half a century in the United States,” Yacobucci said.

Mohr said they’ll start counting absentee ballots eight days after the election which will be next Wednesday.

He said India Walton is leading by 1,503 and they’ve received more absentees than that as of Wednesday.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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