The two commissioners of Erie County's Board of Elections are offering mixed thoughts on the anticipated turnout for Election Day 2015.
The biggest races in Erie County are those for County Executive and the Legislature's district seats. There's also a Family Court race that has gotten a bit testy at times. At the municipal level, though, a few hotly-contested races are on the ballot while other townships and neighborhoods could be in for a relatively quiet day.
One of the commissioners suggested if the lower volume of absentee ballot requests is an indicator, turnout will be low in many areas.
"Generally in a local election year it's much lower than in a presidential year or in a gubernatorial year," said Ralph Mohr, the Republican commissioner. "So we're at the bottom of the four-year cycle. However, we would normally expect somewhere between 13,000 and 14,000 ballots to be sent out during a local election year. This year we've sent out about 10,000 and we've received about a 40 percent return."
But some suburban races are expected to draw more voters. So too, according to Mohr's counterpart, could the weather.
"It's supposed to be a beautiful day, upwards of 70 degrees. We're hoping that spurns turnout," said Democratic commissioner Len Lenihan. "Four years ago in the County Executive race we had about a 40 percent turnout. Last year for the governor's race, about 40 percent. We're hoping it gets a little higher than that today."
Lenihan anticipated higher turnouts in Amherst, Cheektowaga and Lancaster, where constituents are represented by incumbents facing what are considered the tougher challenges in Erie County Legislature races.
Another vote of interest is in the Town of Hamburg, where citizens will decide whether to roll back a 2009 decision to cut the size of the Town Board from five to three. Voters are being asked to decide today whether to restore the board's size to five members.
Mohr offered advice to those who may not have hotly contested races why it's still important for them to come out and vote.
"It's hard to get motivated when you think it's a foregone conclusion, but when you have a low turnout, your vote is not diluted by other votes that are there," Mohr said. "It's that much more important for you to come out and cast your ballot, because you're going to have that much more of a say in how your local government is going to be run."