ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Across the Empire State, New Yorkers began voting early in the morning and will continue until well into the evening on Tuesday. Officials say voters were turning out at a steady pace, but they expect it to pick up after the work hours. However, voter turnout will be down compared to last year due to the nature of the ballot this year.

“First of all, it’s a local election and that determines voter turnout because many of the races are unopposed, so people don’t have the same incentive,” Chemung County Democratic Commissioner Jim Hare told 18 News.

While last year’s election grabbed international headlines, this year’s focus is a bit closer to home. Alternate voting methods, like early and absentee, still remain a key feature of the process and are being implemented this year.

“We actually had almost 870 people early vote,” Commissioner Hare continued.

Thousands of people have participated in early voting and mail-in voting in the Twin Tiers for this year’s general elections.

Across Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties, a total of 1,621 people voted early. Specifically, there were 847 early voters in Chemung County; 429 in Steuben County; and 345 in Schuyler County. All three of these numbers are lower than early voter turnout last year.

There were also a total of 3,159 absentee ballots issued in the Southern Tier. In Chemung County, 1,552 were issued and 631 were received as of 11 a.m. Nov. 2; Steuben County issued 1,244 and 893 were received as of Nov. 1; and Schuyler County issued 363 and received 179 as of 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 2

Absentee ballots in New York must be postmarked by election day (November 2) in order to be counted.

“It seems to be pretty steady. This is the first year that we’ve been able to actually see the numbers that are turning out in the poll site with our electronic poll books,” Steuben County Republican Commissioner Veronica Olin added.

One item that may draw voters to the polls is the five statewide ballot proposals as well as the local propositions.

“From talking to people with the past couple months, interest in the ballot initiatives that people will be voting on across the state as well,” Assemblymember Phil Palmesano said.

Some poll sites may be short-staffed and have fewer inspectors than in years past. Steuben County Board of Election says that this is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and they are currently looking for more inspectors for the next round of elections.

“Please be patient and our poll sites we are extremely short and some of our poll sites on inspectors,” Commissioner Olin said.

No matter which boxes get checked, officials urge voters to rock the vote.

“The local candidates impact you more directly than do the national candidates because they determined property taxes, code policies and they fix your highways,” Commissioner Hare concluded.

Results of the election can be found on the WETM Your Local Election Headquarters results page.