The Student News Site of Ithaca College

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

Ithaca Week

LIVE Coverage: Election Day 2018

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

We’ll provide live coverage here of midterm election voting throughout the region. Ithaca Week reporters are visiting polling stations to check in with voters and poll workers. Scroll down to see a stream of multimedia stories published by our team throughout Election Day.

You can also follow our Election Day coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Newfield Voters Avoid Party Politics

Janet Haas and her daughter, Cassie Haas. Janet said even though she is a registered Republican she does not always vote along party lines. (Maribel Bermudez/Ithaca Week)

Newfield (9:00 p.m.) –  Out of the many voters we spoke to, a common theme seemed to be that voters aren’t strictly adhering to party lines.

In 2014 elections, Newfield was split 34% Democrat, 35% Republican, and the rest were third-party or non-affiliated. In this election, some voters told us their party alignment didn’t dictate their decisions at the voting booth.

Janet Haas, a Newfield resident who is a registered Republican, said she doesn’t always vote along party lines. However, she did come to the polls with at least one issue in mind.

“Getting the governor out was my main objective,” Haas said.

Carl Morse, also a registered Republican, said he votes for the candidate he feels is best, regardless of party lines.

“I vote with my heart on who is going to do the best job,” Morse said. “I don’t vote Republican right across. There are various politicians I feel are better suited, whether they are Democrats are Independents or what have you,” he said.

Regardless of voters reasons for turning out, the polls remained busy as they closed at 9 p.m.

Maribel Bermudez and Silas White

High Turnout at South Hill Elementary

Polling sign directs voters to the entrance. (Austin Wolcott/ Ithaca Week)

South Hill Elementary School (9:00 p.m.) – According to the site managers at the South Hill Elementary School , 644 voters had cast ballots by 7 p.m. This number represents more than 60% of the 1,093 voters registered for this location.

“This year’s voter turnout has been really great,” said Paul Moreno, the Democratic site manager. He added that the turnout was especially encouraging given that it’s a midterm election.

With many state and federal positions up for reelection, some voters, such as Christine McAllister, saw this election as a chance for change.

“Change is important, but it’s not going to happen if people don’t vote,” said McAllister. “That’s why everyone should put their voice into their ballot.”

With two hours left to go, poll workers said they were predicting the number of voters rise even more.

— Story by Austin Wolcott and Reesa Hylton

Newfield Voter Turnout Higher Than Average

Newfield Fire Station, the polling location for Newfield, NY.  (Silas White/Ithaca Week)

Newfield (7:30 p.m.) – Newfield voter turnout is higher than past years, one poll worker said.

According to data from, voter turnout for the last midterm election in Newfield was 1,462, which is 48% of the county’s registered voters.

Randy Brown, a Newfield voter, said that he believes higher voter turnout is due to frustration with the political system.

“I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, I lost faith in both parties many years ago,” Brown said. “I think there is too much power and money involved.”

Treacy Ziegler, an artist and Newfield voter, said she previously hasn’t been active in voting during midterm elections, but came out to vote today due to the recent political climate. Specifically, she wanted to vote “anti-Trump.”

It remains to be seen what the effects of this frustration might be for the current election, but one thing is sure: people are coming out to the polls to cast their ballots and make themselves heard.

–Maribel Bermudez and Silas White

First-Time Voter Brings Daughter to Polls

Cornell University law professor Chantal Thomas  hopes to make bringing her daughter along to the polls a family tradition in order to teach her the importance of voting from a young age. (Alexis Morillo/Ithaca Week)

Varna Community Center (6:30 p.m.) – Starting at around 6 p.m. the Varna Community Center saw an influx of voters, likely making their way to the polls after getting out of work.

The Community Center is located in Dryden,  a town historically split between Democratic and Republican voters. In the 2016 Presidential Election, Dryden voted 49% for Clinton and 45% for Trump. With 78% of the Dryden community of eligible age to vote, this polling location drew in voters of many ages and backgrounds.

Chantal Thomas, a law professor at Cornell University, voted in her first United States election at this location. Originally from Canada, Thomas has been working in the states for quite some time but just recently became a U.S. Citizen. Her main issues when it comes to voting include immigration and access to education.

Thomas also brought along her two-year-old daughter, Sage, to the polls and hopes to instill the importance of civic engagement in her starting at a young age. Her message to young voters, especially students in the Tompkins county area, is to be aware of the world outside of your college community.

“If you’re fortunate to be in a university like Cornell or a college like Ithaca College, it’s a pretty vibrant economy but outside of that, I think people feel like their opportunities have really lessened over time,” she said. “Get involved. This is only part of it.”

Getting out to vote isn’t the only way Thomas believes young people can have an impact in this political climate.

“Casting a ballot is just one part of exercising your citizenship rights. We all need to get involved day to day with our local organizations and communicating our differences and demands to politicians at all levels,” Thomas said.

—Alexis Morillo and Alyssa Curtis

Rural Voters in Caroline Split Along Party Lines

Cindy Nicholson has been a poll worker at the Caroline Community Church for 25 years. She and two of her closest friends have spent the past 10 years working together on election nights as poll workers. (Parita Desai/Ithaca Week)

Caroline Community Church (6:00 p.m.) – The majority of residents in Caroline, a rural town of about 3000, voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but only by a margin of 3 percentage points. The town borders Ithaca to the north, which voted for Clinton by a large margin. However, Caroline is surrounded by Trump supporters in just about every other direction. The President won by margins in the double digits in most towns neighboring Caroline. In Fairfield, directly south of Caroline, 72% of registered voters voted for Trump.

We went to the Caroline Community Church to talk to Joe Westbrook, a poll manager. Westbrook says he’s heard of a variety of concerns from Caroline residents. Some are worried about the environment, as much of the town is made up of farmland and forested area. Others want a change after years of unemployment and slow job growth.

Robert Swansbrough is a self-identified Republican who has lived in Tompkins County for 25 years. He says one of the biggest issues on the ballot is the reelection of Tompkins County Sheriff Ken Lansing. Swansbrough said he believes Lansing is doing a “great job” as sheriff and wants him to win the reelection. Even though Swansbrough mainly votes Republican, he is supporting Lansing, who is running as the Independence Party candidate. 

Voters have the option of looking over a sample ballot before casting their official vote at the Caroline Community Church for the 2018 midterm elections. (Parita Desai/Ithaca Week)

“He makes sure the deputies do what they’re supposed to do and that they tow the line and they don’t step outside. And if they step outside, he corrects them,” he said.

Swansbrough is also concerned about gun rights and the impact of gun control.

“Anyone trying to take a gun away from a law abiding citizen is not good a thing,” he said.

We also spoke to Diane Hamilton, who is voting for more liberal candidates. Unlike Swansbrough, she hopes the House turns in a more liberal direction and sees Tracy Mitrano unseat Tom Reed for New York’s 23rd congressional district. Hamilton explains that voting is important because she wants her voice to be heard.

“It’s important for me to participate in my government. But it’s important for me to be informed. I think everyone should vote, but I think everyone should be informed.”

  – Parita Desai and Madeline Lester

Tompkins County Voters Hope for Continued Enthusiasm

Between 4 and 6 p.m., the Fall Creek Elementary School polling place didn’t see a quiet moment. (Owen Walsh/Ithaca Week)

Fall Creek Elementary School (5:30 p.m.) — With consistently long lines to vote, parents picking their kids up from school and a bustling playground of elementary students, there wasn’t a dull moment this evening at the Fall Creek polling place.

Whether they were longtime residents of Tompkins County or newcomers to the area, voters expressed a feeling that this election was a special one, perhaps even a historic one.

By 5 p.m., over a thousand ballots had been cast inside the school gymnasium.

Cornell graduate student Cait McDonald described the participatory momentum as a “groundswell.” She’s hopeful that this enthusiasm will carryover into future elections, but isn’t positive. Describing herself as liberal, she worries that if the Democrats don’t do as well as expected, those who voted in 2018 will feel “deflated,” and become less likely to vote in coming years.

Peter Bakija, a Tompkins County resident, has voted in many elections at Fall Creek in the past, and he said this was definitely a busier night than usual. He had a similar feeling of reserved optimism.

“I think people want to vote in this election, I’d just like to hope that they vote in the next one too.”

–Owen Walsh

Affidavit Ballots Allow for Flexible Voting

Fall Creek Elementary School (5:30 p.m.) — Lines were long at the Fall Creek polling place, as voters came out to cast their ballots. However, some people were surprised to find that their names were not on the list to be able to vote.

One of those people was me, as I recently moved and didn‘t respond to a registration survey sent to my previous address. However, this didn’t mean I wasn’t able to vote–turns out you can fill out something called an affidavit ballot.

Dwight Mengel at Fall Creek (Owen Walsh/Ithaca Week)

This is a special ballot that you fill out, and then it’s sent out to the Board of Elections to confirm your identity and registration. You’ll then receive a notice by mail telling you if your ballot was valid.

Poll worker Dwight Mengel said that about 1.5% of the votes they’ll receive come from affidavits. While we were talking, three people required the special form. Either those people moved, like me, or the Board of Elections didn’t receive the registration information in time for the election.

If you get a notification that your vote didn’t count, you have 20 days to appeal the decision.

Anna Lamb

IC Students Cast Ballots on Campus

Ithaca College Circles Community Center serves Districts 3 and 12 in the Town of Ithaca. (Jeb Biggart/Ithaca Week)

Circles Community Center (3:30 p.m.) In 2014, 19.9% of 18-29 year olds voted in midterm elections. This year, young voters are expected to break records. A poll released on Monday by Harvard’s Institute of Politics reported that 40% of young voters say they will “definitely vote” on Election Day.

One poll worker at Circles Community Center on Ithaca College’s campus said they’ve seen a great turnout today with more than 500 ballots cast so far. He mentioned that the  voters are not necessarily college students.

Sophie Ichizawa put in extra work to make sure her voice was heard this year. A resident of Massachusetts, Ichizawa submitted paperwork weeks ago to change her polling location to Ithaca. She decided to forgo an absentee ballot in order to vote in person.

“I came out to vote because general elections are just as important as primary elections,” Ichizawa said. “It’s really important to get our voice heard.”

A steady stream of students have been stopping in to vote here. We’ll know soon if that 40% made it to the voting booths.

–Maggie Gorman and Jeb Biggart

Quiet Again in Allen, NY

Allen Town Hall, much quieter on Nov. 6, 2018. (Vaughn Golden/Ithaca Week)
Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) surrounded by Democratic constituents at the Allen Town Hall in February 2017 (Vaughn Golden/Ithaca Week)






Allen Town Hall (Noon) —
 On Feb.17, 2017, crowds of activists flocked to a small municipal services building far removed from any major Democratic strongholds. In their crosshairs was Rep. Tom Reed, who was making his first round of town hall events since returning to congress after beating his Democratic challenger, John Plumb, in November.

The Allen Town Hall is once again the focal point of politics today, however in a far more calm and collected manner. It’s a polling location serving the roughly 300 registered voters for the town.

Election inspector Ken Geist has been working the polls since he retired from the Wellsville KMart in 2011. He’s become a regular dispenser of  “I Voted” stickers in Allen.

“I’ve been working here for four or five years, so if I don’t recognize names, I recognize their faces,” Geist says of the usual voters. The population of Allen is made up largely of seasonal hunters and sportsmen who own properties close to the area’s nearby state forests. Those who live here year-round are often older and generally more conservative-leaning. About 72 percent of the county voted for President Trump in 2016.

As of 9:30 a.m., Geist says there had been a steady trickle of voters showing up to cast ballots, but it’s not unusual to see a line start forming in the cramped room as people start to get off of work.

–Vaughn Golden

Some Voters Cast Ballots to Send ‘Message to President Trump’

Voters came out in droves to cast their ballots at Titus Towers in Ithaca, NY. (Annie Estes and Joe Jones/Ithaca Week)

11:30 a.m. — In a phone call with supporters, President Donald Trump said that although he is not running, he will be greatly influencing the outcome of the midterm elections. “In a certain way, I am on the ballot. Whether we consider it or not, the press is very much considering it a referendum on me and us as a movement.”

This statement appears to be reflected in a CNN poll which found that 7 in 10 likely voters will be casting their vote to send a direct message to the President. More specifically, 42% say they will be voting in opposition to the Trump administration and 28% voting in support. Only 28% say that President Trump will carry no weight when they vote.

Some of the voters we spoke to at the Titus Towers polling location in Ithaca expressed this sentiment of voting with President Trump in mind.

Vick Fielding expressed some doubts with the President. “He’s kind of the end result of years of heading towards a less democratic society, and corporations having control. I think we forget the real power of a democracy, and the common person.”

Another voter, JoAnn Izibki, also spoke negatively about Trump’s GOP. “We’re moving into what I think is fascism, and we probably will lose our democracy if Republicans win.”

–Story by Joe Jones and Annie Estes

Ithaca Voters Weigh in on Impact of Individual Votes

"America the Beautiful" sign
American flags and patriotic signs lined the walkway to the Titus Towers II Polling Place. (Annie Estes/Ithaca Week)

Titus Towers II (10 a.m.) — Hundreds of millions of Americans are expected to fulfill their civic duty today, casting votes on the local and national levels. In such a large and divided country, it can be hard to feel that your vote matters, even in our democracy. This morning Ithaca voters weighed in on the impact of their vote as they exited the polls at Titus Towers II.

Gail Blake, who exited the poll proudly applying her “I Voted” sticker, said she feels confident her vote matters in local and regional races, but questioned her vote’s worth in national elections.

“I think on a nationwide scale the electoral college really kind of messes up the model of one person one vote, but I think locally and regionally it really, really matters,” she said. “And it matters on the national level too, right? Because we can see how many votes each candidate got, it just doesn’t count in a direct way.”

Long-time voter JoAnn Izibki believes voting does have an impact, even if none of the candidates feel qualified.

“After Reagan, I realized that even though I don’t like any of the candidates, unfortunately, we are forced in this country to do ‘lesser evil’ voting — sometimes the worst evil creates trouble and problems for a lot of individuals,” Izibki said. “So now I vote, even if I don’t like most of the candidates.”

–Annie Estes and Joe Jones

Second Grade Teacher Proudly Wears Sticker to Set Example for Students

Kate Handy, a second grade teacher, casts her vote at the Danby Fire Station (Giulia Villanueva López/Ithaca Week)

Danby Fire Station (8:45 a.m.) — Kate Handy, a Danby resident and second grade teacher at Candor Central School District Elementary School, voted early this morning at Danby Fire Station. She grabbed a “Voted” sticker to show to her students later that day.

“I think it’s really important that no matter how things are we have to make our choice for ourselves, and everybody should get out and vote. I want them to know that even though a lot of their grown-ups don’t vote, it’s an important thing to do,” said Handy.

Handy said she felt that this election was particularly difficult because of her conflicting views on the congressional candidates.

“I went to college with Tom Reed. It’s hard for me because my views are here and there with what he believes right now but I know him as a person with a family, and it’s really hard to watch him get beat up in our home because of his views,” Handy said. “I know the guy he was when we were 18. He might not always do what we like, but he’s a real guy.”

When elections do come up in the classroom, Handy makes sure to tell her students: “You can’t complain unless you vote.”

–Allison Falk and Giulia Villanueva López

Despite Rain and Wind, Strong Turnout at Danby Fire Station

Danby Fire Station (8 a.m.) — A steady flow of people came to the Danby Fire Station at 8 a.m. Young and elderly citizens voted at one of the eight booths at this location. Some kids stood on their tiptoes, looking at the ballot, while their parent explained the process. An elderly woman was assisted by a volunteer to her voting booth.

Over the course of an hour, 60 people cast their votes, adding to the other 200 that had come in the early morning hours. Poll volunteers and employees, some of them first-time attendants, helped to sign-in the voters and hand out the ballot. Asher Hockett, one of the machine engineers for Tompkins County, also assisted with any machine glitches.

Between 8:45 and 9:00 a.m., there was a lull in voters, but that did not discourage Patti Nash, a poll worker, who hopes for a 90% turnout for districts 1 and 3 in Danby.

–Allison Falk and Giulia Villanueva López

Voters Get Out Early to Fulfill Civic Duty

Connor and Andrew got to South Hill Elementary school at 6:30 a.m. to make sure they had time to cast their ballot before going to class (Emily Chavez/Ithaca Week).

South Hill Elementary (7:30 a.m.) — Polls opened at 6 a.m. today and lots of people came early to cast their vote before heading to work or classes. It started off some-what busy, as the polling location only has three voting stations and people had to wait their turn to cast their ballot. Things then slowed down and there were only one to two people there at a time in between 6:15 a.m. to 6:45 a.m., especially as the rain picked up.

This polling station votes for Ithaca City District. There were three voting stations and about five volunteers helping out. At 6:45 a.m., the polling station became more crowded and there was a steady stream of people going in and out.

Most of the people we spoke with wanted to vote early because they have classes and/or work during the day. Two Ithaca College students, pictured above, have a full day of class and were unable to go later. Other people we spoke with have long work days but voting was important to them.

–Danielle Allentuck and Emily Chavez

Former Ithaca Mayoral Candidate Serves as Republican Poll Site Manager

Janis Kelly, Republican Poll Site Manager, standing outside of the Borg Warner Community Room, which is the polling site for District 4 (Jaysha Patel/Ithaca Week).

Tompkins County Library (6 a.m.) — Seven years ago, Janis Kelly ran for Mayor of Ithaca as a Republican. Although she wasn’t elected, she has continued serving the community by working as a Republican Poll Site Manager for around 20 years.

Her duties include making that process run as smoothly as possible for those who can vote. For example, poll site managers are ultimately responsible for security. This means making sure machines are functioning, and ensuring all ballots are handled properly.  

“The way things work in Tompkins County, which is a very, very clean voting process, is there are always inspectors and managers from both parties in the room all the time, so there’s never any chance of hanky-panky,” Kelly said.

The ballot machines do not connect to the internet, therefore preventing hackers from accessing information.

“We always have the paper ballots in the machine as a backup and one of us will take the big blue box of them to the board of elections at the end of the day and hand them in,” she added.

Despite concerns over election security,  Kelly believes the voter turnout is increasing. Nineteen people cast their ballot at the Tompkins County Library polling site before 6:30 a.m.

“The people are kind of fired up more this year than before, and we are very gratified that we have seen a fairly steady increase in turnout for primary voters and midterm elections over the last 8 or so years,” she noted.

She continues to volunteer because she’s passionate about the election process.

“I love my country and I don’t take the vote for granted. I think it’s an incredibly precious thing,” she added.

–Amanda Chin and Jaysha Patel

Elections 2018: What’s on Your Ballot?

Michael Pyskaty takes a look at every race that will be on ballots in Tompkins County. Read the voter guide.

O’Mara vs. Kirchgessner for NY Senate 58th District

(Left) Democratic Nominee, Amanda Kirchgessner; (Right) Republican Nominee, Sen. Tom O'Mara
Democratic Nominee Amanda Kirchgessner (left);  Republican Nominee, Sen. Tom O’Mara (Right)

Incumbent Republican Senator Tom O’Mara is being challenged by Democratic nominee Amanda Kirchgessner in the race for New York Senate’s 58th district. Vaughn Golden reports on how the candidates stand on key issues: healthcare, the environment, food security, and abortion. Read his report.

Danby Voters to Decide Fate of Elected Highway Superintendent

This will be the second time in the past eight years that this question appears on the ballots of Danby residents. In 2010, voters narrowly rejected the proposal by a margin of just 4 votes. (Michael Pyskaty/Ithaca Week)

When voters in the Town of Danby head to the polls next week, they’ll be asked whether to change the position of highway superintendent from an elected office to an appointed one. The Danby Town Board authorized the referendum back in September, citing the evolving nature of the position. Read more about the proposal.



Featured homepage image for this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

View Comments (1)
Donate to Ithaca Week

Your donation will support the student journalists of Ithaca College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Ithaca Week

Comments (1)

All Ithaca Week Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *