New York City's first-ever early voting period during a general election is poised to exceed 1 million votes. The NYC Board of Elections announced on Saturday afternoon that, as of 3 p.m., 950,000 "check-ins" were recorded.

The Board expanded voting hours for the final three days of voting—October 30th through November 1st—to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of determined, enthusiastic voters, many of whom braved long lines (up to five, six hours!) and inclement weather.

Friday saw the second-highest daily early votes, with 137,467; Tuesday holds the record, with 143,012.

Votes through October 30, 2020

Votes through October 30, 2020

Saturday was the first day of early voting at Marymount College on East 71st Street on the Upper East Side. The location was added after Gothamist /WNYC reported that Robert Wagner Middle School, four blocks north, had 118,753 register the most early voters assigned to it out of all of the 88 early voting sites—leading to lines that circled the block a few times, leaving people to wait well over four hours on some days and forcing the NYPD to shut down the street, to in order to keep cars from hitting voters who were spilling onto the road.

Lines at Robert Wagner and Marymount were barely a block long mid-day Saturday, with people lining up and voting in under 45 minutes. "I passed this spot three times earlier this week," Geri Narber said outside Robert Wagner, on East 75th Street. "Even at 6:30 a.m. in the pouring rain, the line wrapped around the block twice."

A friend told her that on Tuesday, the wait was six hours, she said. Now, Narber had been waiting for just five minutes and could easily see the entrance just two buildings away. "I want to make sure there's no actual problem on Election Day," she added. "If I can vote early and save that space for someone to vote on Election Day, all the better."

At Marymount, Johanna Hamden timed her vote. "Twenty-five minutes exactly," she said.

"We tried on Tuesday at Wagner Middle School, and it was a five hour wait," her husband, Sammy Hamden, said. "So our plan was to vote on Election Day," but then the Marymount location was opened. They went to Marymount after someone told them there was only a 10 minute wait.

Seeing the lines outside Wagner lines "made me happy, because it means people are voting," Johanna Hamden said. "But it was also stressful, because we have the baby, so that makes it hard," referring to their 19-month-old baby son who was wearing a "I'm A Future Voter" sticker.

Other voters were also strategically gathering intelligence on the best times to vote. Melanie Martinez, who voted at the Campos Plaza Community Center in the East Village, said, "I'm on a neighborhood chat blog, and they're kind of updating people on what the line you know, wait was. And we knew that by the end of the week, it was already less people in line. So we woke up and ran out."

Voting in person was important to Martinez. "I kind of want to lay low on Election Day. It's been very stressful, anxiety has been high," she admitted. "I just wanted to come in, know that my vote is being counted by coming in person. Even though I had an absentee ballot. I kind of wanted to do the process. Plus, I'm with my son who's a first-time voter, and I wanted to experience that with him."

"I felt like I missed out on not being able to vote in the last election," Jasper Newell, Martinez's son, said. "Me and my friends, we were really bummed out about that. But it feels great. I turned 18 two months ago. So, that was the first thing I was thinking about: 'Now I get to vote.'"

Martinez praised the poll workers and others keeping voters spirits lifted during early voting. "It was amazing to see so many [people] out even during the pandemic, and COVID and all through, up and down the street, even before we got to the poll," she marveled. "They were directing. And it was just so kind and generous. And it feels good. I mean, we've always had a neighborhood community here in the East Village, but it's more so now and more than ever; it's it's nice. It's nice to matter how you vote."

Some notes on voting:

  • Sunday, November 1st, is the last day of early voting, with polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 4 p.m. Find your assigned early voting site here (it's probably different from Election Day!).
  • If you are a senior citizen, you can skip the line or go to a line for seniors—find a poll worker who can direct you. Many poll workers are assisting senior citizens, people with disabilities, pregnant women, or people with small children.
  • If you want to vote by absentee ballot, you can go to a Board of Elections office through November 2nd to request a form.
  • You can also drop off your absentee ballot at any early voting site or Board of Elections office. If you drop off your ballot in person at an early voting site or BOE office, you do not need postage; if you go to an early voting site, find a poll worker at the site to inquire about the absentee ballot drop-off (there may be a line).
  • Finally, Election Day is November 3rd; find your Election Day polling site here (very likely different from your early voting site!). Polls open on November 3rd at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

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