BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thursday primary elections are a rare occurence.
The last time it happened in New York was 2012.
"We had just under 10 percent turnout,” said Jeremy Zellner, commissioner of the Erie County Board of Elections. “I think we'll have about 15 percent turnout tomorrow, total, both parties, all voters."
There are a few reasons Zellner has a relatively optimistic outlook for voter turnout.
"There's a lot more happening at the state level than there was back then so I think that vote's going to be driven up by the attorney general's race, the gubernatorial primary as well," he said.
Jacob Nieheisel, an associate professor of political science at the University at Buffalo expects the total turnout in Erie County to be closer to 10 percent.
While he acknowledges the statewide races, he says those candidates have not campaigned much in the region.
He says the x-factor could be candidates from Erie County like Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General candidate Leecia Eve.
"Those races aren't super salient and they aren't particularly close, if the polling is to be believed, so it's unclear the extent to which folks in Erie County will come out to support their hometown favorites," Nieheisel said.
While there are only a few low-profile state Senate and Assembly races in the county, Zellner believes local politics will also get people to the polls.
"I just think that there's enough activity happening around the county,” he said. “There's a county court primary. There's two big town justice races in Lancaster and Orchard Park on multiple party lines as well. I think that's giving some people reason to come out."
"Local dynamics are notoriously difficult to look at from 2000 feet up,” Neiheisel added. “Yeah, absolutely I would expect to see quite a bit of ultra-local variation in turnout rates."
The commissioner believes, in general, people in Western New York know and feel strongly enough, one way or another, about the governor to be compelled to vote and he says with advertisements and coverage, people are aware of the primary.