Long lines of patient voters waited their turn to cast their ballots on Saturday, the first day of the second time in New York history that voters could cast their votes early.
New Yorkers joined 42 other states and the District of Columbia where early voting is legal, but New York has one of the shortest early voting periods of all of them. In comparison, California begins early voting 29 days before election day, while Virginia voters can cast their ballots as early as 45 days before official election day, which this year is November 3. There is a bill now in the New York State Assembly’s election law committee that will extend the early voting period to 14 days if passed.
New York City is taking advantage of large venues that have been closed due to the pandemic for early voting spaces, such as Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Museum, where state Attorney General Letitia James and state Senator Zellnor Myrie will welcome early voters.
Last year’s September primaries were the first time New York held early voting, but it was not a popular voting option, attracting only 118,108 voters—just 6.7% of the total votes cast. The national average for early voting has been, until this year’s election, about 17.3%.
New York City has 88 early voting sites, but voters need to be careful that they only go to the early voting site that they have been assigned to. They also need to know that each voter’s early voting location is different than the polling location they are required to go to on election day itself. Voters also need to be aware that November 2, the Monday before Tuesday’s election day, will not hold any early voting, so if you haven’t voted by November 1, you will need to wait an additional day.
To find out where to cast your ballot, registered voters can use the Board of Elections search tool: Find My Poll Site.