Early voting opens Saturday with surge anticipated at local polls

TROY – When early voting starts Saturday, three chartered buses will run every 20 to 30 minutes, getting members of the city’s Black churches and residents of public housing and community centers to Rensselaer County polling sites.

“I want to get the people in the neighborhoods out and involved,” said Deacon Jerry Ford of the United Ordained Church.

“Souls to the Polls” is the effort to get voters out on Saturday, Oct. 24, Wednesday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Oct. 31, to county’s early voting sites at Holy Cross Armenian Church in Troy and Brunswick Town Hall, which don’t have direct public transportation.  Schodack Town Hall is the county’s third early voting site.

Voting across the region will be every day at a few sites in each county from Saturday to Nov. 1. Election Day at regular polling places is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“We’re trying to make it easier,” Ford, who is involved in community and youth activities in the city, said about giving inner city residents the opportunity to cast ballots.

Souls to the Polls is sponsored by Bethel Baptist Church, Equality for Troy, Fifth Ave AME Zion Church, Justice Center of Rensselaer County, Kingdom Ministries, League of Women Voters, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, The Sanctuary for Independent Media, Team Hero, Troy Area United Ministries, United Ordained Church and the Troy Branch of the NAACP.

Also in the region, Schenectady County Board of Elections Commissioners Amy Hild and Darlene Harris said Friday that the office is working with CDTA to provide bus transportation to two of its four early voting sites. There will be a trolley circulating around downtown Schenectady to take voters at the Hon. Karen B. Johnson Library, 99 Clinton St., and the Glenville Senior Center, 32 Worden Road.

The Capital Region’s county election boards are anticipating a flood of early voters.  Since it’s a presidential election year, interest is heightened. There are also congressional and state legislature seats on the ballot, and Saratoga Springs has a charter change referendum.

The boards in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties have all reported record requests for absentee ballots, due in part to the COVID-19 exception allowed by the state, for this year’s elections.

“We believe it’s going to be a huge turnout. That’s what we’re ramping up for,” said Ed McDonough, Rensselaer County Democratic elections commissioner.  McDonough said the staff is receiving hundreds of calls asking about early voting.

Also expecting plenty of activity are Albany County Republican Elections Commissioner Rachel Biedi and Saratoga County Democratic Elections Commissioner William Fruci.

Ford said helping get city voters to the poll locations may help get them interested and involved in the 2021 elections when the City Council and Rensselaer County races are on the ballots.

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