By CRAIG FREILICH
St. Lawrence County’s elections commissioners say yesterday’s voter turnout rivals the record, although accurate figures are hard to come by just yet.
It appears that more than 34,000 people voted for one presidential candidate or another at polling stations in the county.
The number of voters was augmented by hundreds of college students and others who voted under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order allowing anyone from any of the downstate counties declared disaster areas because of Hurricane Sandy to vote wherever they were for national and statewide candidates.
“My fellow commissioner and I agree that the returns reveal near-record numbers in elections in recent memory,” according to Republican county Elections Commissioner Tom Nichols, speaking also for Democratic Commissioner Jennie Bacon.
The notion that voter turnout this year could have set a record is boosted by the fact that as of Monday, 2,600 absentee ballots had been received and more were coming in.
“There are also several hundred affidavits,” Nichols said. Affidavits are filled out by voters who for one reason or another show up at a polling station believing they can vote but are not on the rolls. In those cases, voters cast provisional ballots which are put aside to be counted later.
That category includes many people from downstate who are in the North Country and could vote here, according to the governor’s order.
Nichols said that there were buses from the four colleges in the county that brought hundreds of students who are from storm-ravaged areas downstate to polling places in Canton and Potsdam.
All of those provisional ballots have to be researched to determine if the voters actually had the right to vote and hadn’t already voted by absentee ballot to their home districts. All of the absentee ballots cast here also have to undergo scrutiny to be certain that those voters did not also show up at a polling place to vote.
So, Nichols said, it will be some time before the board has a firm grip on the actual number of people who voted in St. Lawrence County yesterday, but he is certain that turnout was high this year.