On Saturday, the first day of early voting, thousands of New Yorkers flooded polling stations and waited in long queues, many saying they left because they were worried their ballots would not be counted if they tried to vote by mail.
Lines were stretched to constituencies outside polling stations, including Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Armory in Washington Heights, as election officials fought with malfunctioning electronic voting machines and tried to silence interested voters.
Restrictions on voters and polling workers on the first day of voting reflected the challenges of holding a controversial presidential election amid an epidemic. But the delays and the corona virus left many unrestrained.
Halfway through East 166th Street is the Grand Concourse and the line for early voting at Andrew Friedman House in the Bronx around the corner.
This epidemic was on most people’s minds. Many wore masks, some of them even in gloves. They tried to spread at least six feet apart, but it was difficult to maintain social distance in very narrow areas of the street.
Brian Washington, 60, said the rewards of voting are initially more than contagious. “I am one of those who truly believes that this is one of the most important elections we have ever had.” Washington said. “I believe this is an election for the soul of the country.”
At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, 75-year-old Barbara Ali showed up at 6:50 a.m. to call the city’s information line 311 because she thought the poll would open at 7 a.m., but they had not done so for three hours yet, but she decided to wait.
“This is the most important election of this century,” said Ms Ali, a retired city worker from Park Slope. “It’s the icing on the cake. I don’t want to call it names, but we know what it is.”
He thought about the non-voting due to the corona virus, but said, “Flexing it on the computer was the way I wanted to go.”
In fact, recent accidents involving postal-voting seem to have taken many voters to the polls on Saturday. He said some did not believe their votes would be counted if they did not show up in person and many did not want to wait until election day.
Proceed with Election 2020
Late last month, the city’s election board caught fire after 100,000 voters in Brooklyn. Received votes that were not with incorrect names and addresses.
This was the first presidential election in which New Yorkers were initially allowed to vote. State Legislature Approved to vote early in 2019, Was one of the last states to adopt New York after the Democrats seized control.
New York election lawyer Sarah Steiner said on Saturday that it was not unusual to hear reports of long lines and other issues on the first day of voting.
Throughout the day, photos on social media showed New Yorkers descending on polling stations across the city and state. Ms Steiner said the pictures were signs of a better turnout than expected.
“There are always two flaws. This is an event for a lot of people, and it’s a wonderful sign of civic engagement,” Ms Steiner later said. “I’m glad to see this.”
Early voting is declining after the first day, so voters should expect a shorter wait if early voting continues, Ms Steiner said.
Voters will have until November 1 to register their early ballots. The nine-day early voting period aims to increase voter turnout by making voting more convenient. Depending on the day, the early voting sites will be open until 7pm, including this weekend and until 8pm the next day.
It was expected that the registered voter number would be available by voting nine days in advance. According to one estimate, of the 4.7 million New York City voters, 3.3 million, or 70 percent, are expected to vote by mail or directly.
Unlike many states and other parts of New York, people can vote at any early polling station in their district, and voters are initially allowed to vote in New York City only in designated areas.
The city announced that Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center will be used as polling stations for the first time, but if voters do not nominate them, they will not be able to vote there.
Changes in location have left many voters confused.
By the time Rebecca Jones, 38, arrived in Madison Square Garden at 10:15 a.m. to cast her ballot, more than 600 people had already lined up in front of her.
Prior to June in New York City, Ms. Jones cast her ballot at a polling station two blocks from Hell’s Kitchen.
“I’m very confused as to why they took so many people to one place. I think this is nonsense,” she said. “If it’s about the number of volunteers running, I’m for it. But they have managed it before. So I was not thrilled with it. ”
More than a dozen police officers were stationed inside and outside Madison Square Garden, and police announced earlier this week that at least one police officer would be assigned to each of the city’s 88 primary polling stations.
Police are unaware of any specific threats to the polls, but Chief Terence A. said the sector has devoted more resources to security than in past elections due to the controversial situation surrounding the presidential election. Monahan said.
On election day, 1,201 polling stations will be opened, all of which will have officials, Chief Monahan said.
“The public should have no fear, just come out and vote,” he said.
On Friday, however, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed concern about the early voting process during an interview with MSNBC.
He said the intervention of supporters of President Trump’s voice is expected in the poor and immigrant communities coming on election day. “We can’t have this,” Mr. De Blasio said.
The mayor said he plans to send hundreds of lawyers, city officials and volunteers to ensure that every New Yorker who wants to vote can do so without fear.
“We are going to make a strong voter protection effort because we cannot allow this election to be robbed by intimidation,” he said.
On Saturday, a small rally erupted outside the Brooklyn Museum.
Democrat state senator Jelner Myri cheered voters on.
“Reports of the demise of democracy are greatly exaggerated,” he said. Said Myri.
Larry Kambo, the city council’s majority leader, echoed that sentiment. He said he was stunned by the turnout at the Barclays Center. “I feel the fire. Shout out to everyone who came out early this morning. ”
Louis Ferreira-Southern and Elisha Brown contributed to the reporting