Long Lines as New Yorkers Flood Polling Places for Early Voting

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New Yorkers flooded polling locations on Saturday, the primary day of early voting within the state, anxious to verify their ballots are counted given the challenges of holding a contentious presidential election in the course of a pandemic.

By 9:30 a.m., shortly earlier than the polls opened, greater than 300 individuals had already lined up in entrance of Madison Sq. Backyard, the overwhelming majority carrying face masks and attempting their greatest to comply with social distancing guidelines. Lower than quarter-hour later, the road had grown by greater than 100.

Behind the road, Aaron Weston, 50, stated he was ready to attend so long as wanted to forged his early vote.

“It’s been since college that I’ve been coming out in person,” Mr. Weston stated. “I didn’t want to let everything going on with the coronavirus stop me from doing it again this year — especially when it’s so important.”

There have been comparable lengthy strains at Barclays Heart in Brooklyn, The Armory in Washington Heights and different main websites across the metropolis.

Sustain with Election 2020

Saturday was the primary time New Yorkers had been allowed to vote early in a presidential election, which is predicted to provide document voter turnout. As many as 3.3 million individuals out of 4.7 million energetic New York Metropolis voters, or 70 p.c, are anticipated to vote by mail or in individual, in accordance with one estimate.

Latest mishaps involving absentee ballots drove many citizens to the polls on Saturday. This week, some voters stated they didn’t belief that their votes can be counted in the event that they mailed in absentee ballots. Late final month, the town’s Board of Elections got here beneath hearth after as many as 100,000 voters in Brooklyn received absentee ballots with the wrong names and addresses.

In the course of the June primaries, the elections board, a quasi-independent company managed by the 2 main events, did not ship mail-in ballots in time to an unknown variety of voters. It additionally took greater than six weeks to finalize the leads to key congressional Democratic major races due to an inflow of absentee ballots.

The latest failures and experiences of lengthy strains and waits in different elements of the nation, most notably in Georgia and Texas, have raised fears that New York’s early voting could be marred by glitches.

Voters could have till Nov. 1 to forged their ballots. The nine-day early voting interval is geared toward rising voter participation by making voting extra handy. Relying on the day, early voting websites will open as early as 7 a.m. and stay so till as late as 8 p.m., together with this weekend and subsequent.

In contrast to in lots of different states and the remainder of New York, the place individuals can forged ballots at any early voting heart of their county, voters in New York Metropolis are allowed to vote early solely at assigned places.

Town introduced that Madison Sq. Backyard and Barclays Heart can be used as polling websites for the primary time, but when voters weren’t assigned to them, they may not vote there.

Greater than a dozen law enforcement officials had been stationed inside and outside Madison Sq. Backyard, and the Police Division introduced earlier within the week that at the least one police officer can be posted at every of the town’s 88 early polling websites.

The police weren’t conscious of any particular threats directed at polling websites, however the division was devoting extra assets to safety than in previous elections due to the contentious local weather surrounding the presidential election, stated Chief Terence A. Monahan, the highest-ranking uniformed officer, at a information convention on Tuesday.

On Election Day, there can be 1,201 polling websites open, and officers can be in any respect of them, Chief Monahan stated.

“The public should have no fear, and should come out and vote,” Chief Monahan added.

On Friday, Mayor Invoice de Blasio, nevertheless, expressed fear concerning the early voting course of throughout an interview with MSNBC. He stated he anticipated interference from vocal supporters of President Trump in poor and immigrant communities come Election Day. “We cannot have this,” Mr. de Blasio stated.

The mayor stated he was planning to dispatch a whole lot of attorneys, metropolis officers and volunteers to make sure that each New Yorker who needs to forged a vote can accomplish that with out worry.

“We’re going to have a strong voter protection effort because you cannot let this election be stolen by intimidation,” he stated.

Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting

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