It's finally November 3rd, 2020, our Election Day occurring in the midst of a pandemic that has upended the presidential race and also the way elections are conducted (see New Jersey's total vote-by-mail election). And there's unprecedented interest in participating in this election—over 1 million NYC residents voted during the early voting period, or 20% of registered eligible voters, and that doesn't even count the absentee ballots that have been mailed in or dropped off at poll sites.

  • The polls in New York City open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.; you can find your Election Day voting site here.
  • Remember: You are not required to show your photo ID when you vote. New York Attorney Letitia James urges people to report any voter intimidation or other prohibited behavior (like militias organizing) to her office's Election Protection Hotline; you can call 1-800-771-7755 or email election.hotline@ag.ny.gov.
  • There will also be hundreds of election observers, including 300 from the bipartisan Election Protection coalition, who will monitor for issues and assist voters. You can call Election Protection's nonpartisan legal advice hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, which is staffed by lawyers trained in election law and supported by the nonprofit Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
  • We will be keeping a running update with news from the poll sites around the city (see below). You can also share your voting experiences with us—email tips@gothamist.com, and let us know where and when.

Update 8 p.m. Mayor Bill de Blasio was out high-fiving voters at PS 375 in Prospect Park around 7 p.m. tonight. And he took some time to offer his own prediction on how things might go tonight.

"In the next few hours, we're obviously going to get a lot of live information about what's happening around the country," he told Gothamist. "But I start with a different assumption than I think some of the chatter out there: we could have a very clear election result, and then I think people are ready to move forward. I think that's the most likely outcome, actually."

As for reports that the NYPD is considering restricting car and foot traffic in parts of Manhattan as a potential “contingency plan” to deter looting and vandalism in the event of post-election civil unrest, the mayor was more evasive. "In the event that we have a prolonged count in this country—and you know, tensions rise—we've got to be ready for any eventuality," the mayor said. "But the scenario planning is all based on just being ready for things, not assuming them. I think it's a really important distinction."

He admitted that the city needed to "do a better job of really giving people up to the minute reports, and when there's something wrong, saying you know, something hasn't been handled right, that hasn't been handled right and what we're doing to adjust it right away. So that's going to be my responsibility. And I'll be talking to you know, Commissioner Shea, Chief Monahan, Chief Holmes quite a bit going forward."

Councilmember Laurie Cumbo was also spotted at PS 375, and she noted that given the crowds of people at polling sites, she was happy that the city implemented early voting this election: "I can't even imagine this election without early voting." She added that Trump had at least one positive effect on the country: "Nobody could have brought the people out quite like 45," she told Gothamist. "And as horrible as these four years have been. The fact that it woke up the democratic process, in this way is probably the only silver lining out of his administration."

Update 7 p.m. The voting site at JHS 189 in Flushing was pretty empty when Sylvia Huang got there to vote in the afternoon on Tuesday. "It was very quick, very efficient, everything was perfect" the 70-year-old told Gothamist.

She said that "of course" she'll be watching the results come in tonight, but was well aware that we may not know who the president is for a bit. "It's okay, just be patient," she offered as advice. "To me, I'm a U.S. citizen. I used to work for the government. I retired from the government. I feel that no matter who wins the election, they're still the president of the U.S."

"We all have our different points of views, different economic standpoints. But we [should] respect everyone's rights."

Fellow Flushing resident Joanne Chen was impressed with how smoothly things went as well; she said that there were poll workers who spoke Chinese and could help people with any questions about voting. She noted that she voted for all Republicans.

Robert Wang suggested that he did not vote for the Republican presidential candidate: “It’s not the crazy guy, I didn’t vote for the crazy guy.” When asked who that would be, “you know who I am talking about—the crazy one.”

Update 6:30 p.m. Over at the polling site at PS 249 in Brooklyn this evening, Karisha David said she was anxious about voting for the first time, but it ended up being a "great experience."

She felt especially grateful because not everyone in her family is able to vote. "I'm not completely like, 'I really want this person to win,' but I just feel happy being part of something that a lot people aren't part of," she said. "It makes me feel proud."

That doesn't mean she's planning on being glued to the TV tonight: "When the results come in, I'm not even going to watch or be on social media. I voted already, so I'm going to let it go now and just focus on anything else. It's very stressful."

Shana Cortes described her voting experience as a "less than two minute process. Everything ran smoothly, the staff there is amazing." She said she voted for Biden, mostly because Trump is "racist."

She added that she also wasn't planning on watching the results come in tonight: "I hope I fall asleep before it comes on so I'm not tempted to watch," Cortes said. "I just want to find out tomorrow. I don't want people to go crazy. I don't want to be outside. I don't want my phone ringing, I'll just wait for the aftermath...Because if I heard it tonight, I'll be on the phone, I'll be online."

Kenneth S. moved upstate over the summer, and had to come back to the city just for the day to vote. He said he got "caught up with life, and then it was too late to register" in his county.

But he called his experience "easy, breezy," adding that he's been impressed with the turnout. "Whether they are Democratic or Republican, they're really showing up for who they want to be the Commander-in-Chief," he said.

Update 5:30 p.m. The Board Of Elections announced that as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, 2,161,043 voters have voted in-person today and during the nine days of early voting in New York City. (That number does not count absentee votes.)

Altogether, approximately 2.7 million New Yorkers voted in 2016. That means that about 75 percent of the total votes cast in 2016 have already been cast, before absentee ballots are taken into consideration, and there are still several hours left for New Yorkers to vote in person today before the 9 p.m. deadline.

Update 2:30 p.m. An allegedly AWOL poll site coordinator caused frustration for early bird voters at J.H.S. 220 John J Pershing in Sunset Park this morning.

Several poll workers told Gothamist that while all the poll workers showed up by 5 a.m. on Tuesday, the head coordinator was nowhere to be found. “When I got here, we had most of our workers here but the coordinator never showed up," said 48-year-old poll worker William Figueroa. "I heard from someone that in June she showed up but was late. This time she didn’t call anyone. We don’t know the situation, whether there was a personal issue or she just decided not to show up.”

Voters had been lined up outside since 5:30 a.m., but it took until around 6:30 a.m. to get people inside. “We started late, but luckily we had some veterans to help out and get things on track," Figueroa said. "We opened the doors and had the elderly come in to vote first.”

“It created a little bit of panic [among the poll site staff]," said Meredith Spector, 35, a poll site volunteer. “First-timers are stepping up but it was shocking and disappointing. This is not how we need this to be ever, and especially now.”

While the head coordinator never showed up, Figueroa and another poll worker were designated by the BOE to fulfill the duties.

In the future, Figueroa hopes the BOE has a backup plan for these types of situations: “There should always be a backup plan for a coordinator. They should have someone else like second-in-command. And even though they do come around throughout the day, it’s important to make sure to have a district person to come around in the beginning, so we can start.”

Update 12:45 p.m. The poll site at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center seems like one of the more pleasant places to vote today, thanks to a live performance happening outside.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Chappaqua...

Update 12:30 p.m. Voter Bill LePage says it took him over three hours to vote at PS 11 in Brooklyn this morning because of an unusual technical glitch.

"It took three and a half hours, not because of any lines (there weren't any), but because the iPad computer for my election district at the public school where I vote, had technical problems," he said.

"Though the voters in my line showed up in the right place at the right district, the computer had them listed for another polling precinct at a different school," he said. "That's because, as the Polling Coordinator told me, they got the wrong iPad -- it should have gone to the other school."

LePage, who said he arrived at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday to vote, was told he could vote by an affidavit ballot, but he felt uncomfortable with that, since it would have to be officially validated by the BOE and could take weeks to be counted. The Polling Site Coordinator said the iPad would be fixed in a few hours, so LePage said he left and returned around 8:30 a.m.—but it was still not working.

He left his number with a poll worker, and they called him back over an hour later. "When I arrived for the third time at 9:45 a.m., everybody who was working there knew who I was by that time," he said. "I told the girl who pointed me to my sign-in desk, 'Third time's the charm.' And she said, 'It's because of you that they fixed it so quickly.'"

Everything was working this time, and he got his ballot scanned As he walked over to the scanner in the large gymnasium, LePage said "everybody in the room started cheering and applauding. It was just so strange to have the room erupt in applause after I voted, something I have never experienced in the times I have voted, needless to say!"

Despite the hiccups he endured to get his vote cast, LePage said that he was especially happy he voted in person this year because of his interactions with various poll workers. "Election Day is a lot of fun, and it should be a national holiday," he added.

At P.S. 93 in Brooklyn on November 3, 2020

Update 11:45 a.m. On the Lower East Side, Rob McMillian said he decided to vote in person at PS 140 because he’s concerned about early voting chicanery.

"I think you feel a little more confident in your vote," he said. "I don't know that there's much logic behind [the idea that] voting on Election Day makes your vote count a bit more, but it feels that way."

He said that he likely won't follow the election results throughout the evening. "I think there's a lot of anxiety and lot of pressure with this election -- more than I can remember in my adult life," he said, explaining that the first time he voted was in the 2000 presidential election, and he retains bad memories of Bush v Gore. "I think we're going to try to tune out, and hopefully wake up in the morning and feel really positive about the state of things."

Update 11:30 a.m. Gothamist's David Cruz reports a positive experience voting at PS 194 in Harlem this morning just before 8 a.m.

"I waited just over an hour on a long line mainly because poll workers didn’t want there to be major crowds inside," he said. "Lines were also spaced out for social distancing. As I waited on line there were poll observers just cheering voters’ patience. Others gave out food, water, and hand sanitizer. Inside, it was quick."

PS 194

Update 9 a.m. Outside the Campos Community Center on East 13th Street in Manhattan, Danny Berry was waiting at 5:45 a.m. to cast his vote, with about eight other people on line. Berry, 67, recalled that the line to vote in 2016 was down the block. "I feared the scene would be worse than that, so I got here early so I wouldn't have to stand in the cold for very long," Berry said. "Of course, early voting seems to have mitigated that."

When asked why he didn't opt for early voting, Berry explained that he valued "the ceremony of voting, the whole idea of voting on Election Day. I have nothing against early voting, but I've been proud of the fact that as long as I've been in this district, which is 38 years, I have come here for every election, regardless of how minor, and signed my name in that book. And I'm proud to be doing that."

Dina Al-Awar was also on line outside the Campos Community Center. After voting, she's not going to pay attention to the news for the rest of the day. "Literally anything else, not looking at my phone, playing a lot of Monopoly or something," she said.

Ola Cummings was the first person on line at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. "We all need to make this vote count, we all need to make a change as soon as possible because the way how this 2020 is going," she said. "I don't want to wake up 2021 and this whole this is happening again. I can't do it. I can't do this vicious cycle again, sorry."

Lines are stretching outside polling sites. At Frank McCourt High School on the Upper West Side, a few hundred people wrapped around the block in the 7 a.m. hour. The school has the second most voters assigned to it on Election Day—14,707.

A line to vote at Frank McCourt High School on the Upper West Side, November 3, 2020

Kate Dejuri timed her vote at the school: She got there at 6:46 a.m. and left at 7:28 a.m. "Not bad," she assessed. "It was much better than I was expecting."

Najeeb Alam, who was with Dejuri, said he preferred voting on Election Day, as opposed to early voting, or voting by mail. "I guess tradition and trend," he explained. "It's always been done this way, and I felt comfortable doing it."

"The line is crazy," Mona Singletary said outside P.S. 375 in Crown Heights. "I thought I had escaped this by not going to early voting. But it's moving so I'm optimistic. I'm going to place my ballot because I want my vote to count, so I'm going to stand out here as long as I need to stand here."

Singletary works at a public hospital and said health care is one of the key issues motivating her to vote this year.

Alliah John was also waiting outside P.S. 375. "No matter who wins, at the end of the day I think the nation has changed somewhat and has woken up or at least is more aware of some of the inequities," she said. "I like the fact that much more people are coming out this year so they see how important voting is."

With reporting by Brigid Bergin, Kate Hinds, Fred Mogul, David Cruz, and Scott Heins