Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Supporters await the arrival of Sen. Bernie Sanders at a rally in Syracuse on April 12.

May 11, 2016

Tompkins County Boasted Highest Voter Turnout of New York Counties in Primary

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Tompkins County experienced a voter turnout rate of 57 percent — the highest rate of all the New York counties in the state primary on April 19 — making it the only county in the state with a larger than 50 percent turnout in this election, according to the Tompkins Board of Elections.

Democrats came to the polls in record numbers with 62 percent of all eligible democrats voting, breaking the 2008 record of a 60 percent turnout. Republican primary voters also eclipsed previous turnout rates with 43 percent of all registered republicans voting this year and only 33 percent voting in 2008.

In the Republican primary, Trump won with 37 percent — the lowest margin of all upstate New York counties, while Gov. John Kasich (R-Oh.) won 34 percent of the vote in Tompkins County.

Sanders won by a wide margin — earning 62 percent of the democratic vote, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only received 38 percent.

Donald Bazley, a volunteer for the Ithaca and Tompkins County for Bernie Sanders Campaign, said he was not surprised Sanders won Tompkins County, calling the Ithaca area an “an oasis of progressive political thought.” Bazley added that he was excited Sanders won the 23rd congressional district of the state of New York.

“While Sanders did very well in Tompkins County we also won our district,” Bazley said. “That is very impressive, considering how the district is compiled of many different counties and those counties generally have political leanings different than what we find in Tompkins but Bernie’s message appeals to many more than just the typical progressive base.“

Although the current delegate count makes it seem unlikely that Sanders will win the nomination, Bazley said Sanders’ campaign is “just the first step of what needs to happen to bring true change to politics in the United States.”

“I am pleased and proud that he will be taking his campaign through all the states and to the convention in Philadelphia,” he said. “The campaign is now about the soul and future of the Democratic Party. Sanders is trying to bring the party back to the ideals it supported decades ago, aligned with the interests of the working class.”

Bazley said Sanders won the 23rd district because his “message appeals to many” in upstate New York. He also credited the hard work of local volunteers in the Ithaca and Tompkins County for Bernie Sanders campaign.

“We got organized and started as early as we could and it paid off,” Bazley said. “Despite the fact that many media outlets portray Sanders as mainly appealing to white young voters, there were many volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working hard for Bernie in the primary.”

Theresa Alt, a member of the Ithaca Branch of the Democratic Socialists of America for Bernie Sanders, said the Ithaca Branch of the DSA was one of “several groups working to turn voters out for Sanders.”

“We delivered over a thousand leaflets about the Sanders program to named voters, indicating their polling places, in the weeks before the election,” Alt said.

Alt also lauded the mobilizing efforts of volunteers in the Ithaca and Tompkins County for Bernie Sanders campaign for the huge voter turnout.

“The main campaign must have reached thousands of voters — many volunteers first worked in the smaller groups, then joined the official campaign closer to the primary,” Alt said.