ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Voters have begun to head for the polls as early voting kicks off this weekend.

“Early voting is absolutely wonderful,” Democratic commissioner Jackie Ortiz said. “It is probably one of the most convenient ways to be able to cast your ballot. I would encourage everyone to check the website. It is available for the next nine days, eight hours a day during that time frame. And so, you know, we always say there is absolutely a time and a place that should be able to work for you.”

Several highly anticipated races are taking place for the upcoming primary election in Monroe County, from members of the House of Representatives, Civil Court judges and the New York State Assembly.

“It's a small subsection of Monroe County,” Republican commissioner Lisa Nicolay said. “It's essentially Democrats within the city of Rochester or within 137th Assembly District. There are also a few Democratic committee seats that are being voted on in the city of Rochester, town of Brighton and town of Irondequoit.”

Several candidates include Democratic primary for city court judge between Michael Geraci and former Mayor Lovely Warren. Other challenges in Monroe County include State Assemblyman Demond Meeks, who faces a challenge in the 137th District from Rochester City Council member Willie Lightfoot. And there are some primaries for members of the Monroe County Democratic committee.

“It's going to be smaller races until around March through the petitioning process,” Nicolay said. “So we have to kind of prepare for anything that could be eligible. So that's every race that you'll see in November. If there's any inter-party disputes and people that want to challenge the endorsed candidate, that would happen right now.”

Early voting will be offered at nine different locations in Monroe County through June 23. With fewer voting polls than years prior, officials say this will not interfere with the vote. However, the turnout is expected to be lower in comparison to the presidential election.

“As history plays itself out, primaries are generally lower than the general elections,” Ortiz said. “And, you know, it's always hard to say exactly where we'll be. But we certainly hope anyone and everyone who's eligible comes out. But, you know, we're probably looking at somewhere around 20%.”

Officials highlight the importance of the lower-level races like the primaries, as they are often stepping stones to higher offices.

“It's super important, especially in years like this, when you have local elected officials on the ballot,” Ortiz said. “And so these are your neighbors, these are the people who are in charge of your local dollars and policy decisions. And in order for, you know, the leadership that is elected to truly reflect the voice and the will of the people, you have to have enough people actually come out and do that.”

Polls will open for regular voting from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25.

Eligible voters can visit any of these nine polling locations:

  • David F. Gantt Recreation Center - 700 North St.

  • Edgerton Recreation Center - 41 Backus St.

  • Irondequoit Public Library - 1290 Titus Ave.

  • Monroe County Office Building - 39 W. Main St.

  • North Greece Road Church of Christ - 1039 N. Greece Road

  • St. Theodore's Catholic Church - 168 Spencerport Road

  • Staybridge Suites Rochester University - 1000 Genesee St.

  • Empire State University (in-person ASL interpreter) - 680 Westfall Road

  • Susan B Anthony House - 17 Madison St.

To find out about your local polling location or how to vote you can visit here.