AMHERST — Before dawn Tuesday morning at North Tonawanda City Hall, things were already bustling.
Judy Niemiec and her fellow election inspectors were there hours before the 6 a.m. poll opening for Election Day, readying voting machines and making sure everything was ready to go.
Niemiec, who's been serving as an inspector for three years now, said there's been a lot to learn with the electronic voting machines and other changes.
"That's why the four of us work together as a team," she said. "But we're ready. We're ready."
The first person waiting to vote at City Hall was Jim Chiodo, a Korean War veteran who's lived his entire life on Ganson Street in North Tonawanda. A morning person, he said that he's often the first voter in line on Election Day.
"It's my patriotic duty to do," he said, "and I'm going to do it."
Five people were waiting when the polls officially opened. One of them was Sheryl Fleming, who stopped by before going to work to be sure she got the opportunity.
"It's going to be so close this year, and everybody's vote is going to count," she said. "I thought there would be lines already."
Fleming said that she'd called all her friends and encouraged them to vote today.
"Four more years of what we're been getting ... I can't take it," she said. "If it hasn't worked, I have to change it."
After the first handful of people, the pattern settled into a steady trickle of voters, many of whom were casting votes before heading off to work or school. One of the earliest was Erin Robinson, a professor at Canisius College.