Outside Barclays Center—one of the largest early voting polling sites in New York City this year—Ama Serrano of Park Slope arrived at her polling site with her mother, Leaja, in Brooklyn for the first day of early voting at 7:15 a.m.
"I just wanted my mom to be safe, and get it done early when there was plenty of time," said Serrano, standing with her mother, Leaja.
There was plenty of pomp outside the Barclays Center, where 30,000 local registered voters are allowed to cast a ballot. Outside the arena, a drumline kicked off a soundtrack for a festive mood, ushering in nine days of early voting ahead of Election Day on November 3rd.
The Serranos were among the thousands across the city casting a ballot during the first day of early voting. This is also the first time NYC is offering early voting for a presidential election.
Several miles away, Jennifer Figueroa was also waiting for several hours before her poll site opened. Despite the pandemic, she arrived to her poll site in person, leaving nothing to chance.
"I didn't want to put my vote in anyone's hands. I wanted to be able to put it in the ballot and know that it's in, and no next steps after that," said Figueroa, who came with her mom to the Council Center for Senior Citizens in Midwood, Brooklyn.
At Lincoln Center, much like other voting sites on Saturday, a line wrapped around several blocks as patient voters came to cast their ballot. Much like the Serranos, Meredith Gable arrived to her polling site at 7:15 a.m. to vote in person. However, she said the wait was actually much longer.
"I've been waiting since 2016 to vote in the next election," said Gable, who told Gothamist it was her first time voting early. "And I actually wanted to be first in line. Unfortunately, these ladies bested me out. But that's okay. I'm just energized right now and and really want to see Joe Biden actually get in."
Gable passed the time speaking to other like-minded voters as a line wrapped around several blocks along Broadway between 61st and 63rd Streets.
There are 88 designated early voting polling sites across the city, all aimed at alleviating notoriously long lines on Election Day as well as giving voters more flexibility. (Mayor Bill de Blasio had demanded over 200 early voting sites last year; some cultural institutions, which receive city tax breaks, have also refused to use their spaces to be early voting sites.) There are about 1,200 polling sites on Election Day.
Voting overall, like everything else, is made a little trickier by the pandemic, with extra safety protocols instituted by the city Board of Elections (these protocols were also present during the June primary). Poll workers were reminding voters inside the polling sites to socially distance, while voters received ballots from workers behind plexiglass barriers.
The scenes of democracy appeared to counter claims by President Donald Trump, who called New York City "a ghost town" during the last presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Like Gable, Leonora Lucon of Park Slope voted for Biden.
"Trump is a liar, disgusting, and he's so vulgar," said Lucon, on the reasons she decided to vote for Biden. "I'm really hoping that things work out."
In addition to early voters, others in line were people dropping off their absentee ballots. Holding her ballot, Jackie Ha said, "I was worried that it couldn't arrive in time, so I thought this would be a safe alternative, versus mailing it." She requested an absentee ballot because she wasn't sure she would be in New York during the election, and actually changed her flight so she could bring her ballot to the polling site at Lincoln Center.
Surveying the line of about a thousand people, Ha added, "It's a good turnout...hopefully a good sign."