Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

A crush of early voters makes for long waits in N.Y.C.

By Mihir Zaveri

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It’s Monday.

Weather: A dreary day: Drizzle early, tapering to occasional showers. High near 60.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Sunday (All Saints’ Day).

Across New York City, you might have seen the lines this weekend. They sometimes stretched for several blocks: person after person, with a healthy gap in between, waiting to vote, sometimes for hours.

Starting on Saturday, New Yorkers took to the polls to vote early in a presidential election for the first time ever.

With the election coming amid a pandemic, some voters wanted to avoid the anticipated crush of people at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3. Others were anxious about voting by mail and wanted to cast their ballot in person, especially after as many as 100,000 voters in Brooklyn received absentee ballots with the wrong names and addresses. Still others sought the convenience of voting on the weekend.

About 190,000 people inundated polling places to take advantage of early voting over the weekend, according to unofficial figures from the city’s Board of Elections.

[New Yorkers lined up for blocks to vote early on Saturday.]

The context

Across the United States, more than 59 million ballots have already been cast in the 2020 election, surpassing the previous early turnout record set in 2016. Many elections administrators have urged people to vote before Election Day, as officials expect enormous levels of voter participation.

People in many states are waiting for hours to vote early. When most of Georgia opened for in-person voting on Columbus Day, voters in some Atlanta suburbs waited up to seven hours to cast a ballot.

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