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One Last Weekend To Get In On ‘Easy, Swift, Painless’ Early Voting

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Call it beginner’s luck, or maybe the silver lining to a low turnout election. But if the responses to Gothamist / WNYC’s survey are any indication, early voting is getting largely rave reviews from New Yorkers. As of the close of polls on Thursday, 32,481 voters turned out citywide, out of nearly 152,735 statewide.

There’s still time to get in on this first early voting experiment with voting hours running through Sunday afternoon, November 3rd, at 4 p.m. Check the hours, confirm your poll site location and make sure to read up on what’s on your ballot before you go to the polls.

So far, 144 people responded to our survey. Here’s what some early birds had to say:

“It was great. Everyone is friendly and helpful and it’s fully staffed. Pleased to see entirely African-American polling staff. And it’s only a block from Central Park including the Conservatory Garden, what a treat! I combined my exercise, fast-walking in the park, with my civic duty to vote. I’m 80 and this is the first time in my entire life I’ve been able to vote on a Saturday, I’m jumping for joy!”—Mary Dugan, Manhattan

“Easy, swift, painless.”—Lynn Brown, Brooklyn

“It was surprisingly joyous! The room was buzzing with energy, and everyone was in an ebullient mood. I had my voter ID card, so it was a simple matter of putting it into a card reader, then signing on an iPad. Took less than 1 minute. No lines at all to use the voting scanner. A couple of people were taking selfies of themselves with their ‘I Voted’ stickers; I took a photo for a couple who were positively beaming! It was a very positive experience, and with the present political situation, it was lovely to feel that reaffirmation of one of our basic rights as a citizen. A little dose of good medicine. (The only downside to the day, and that was even a bit of an adventure, was having to enter the polling site thru a less-than-festive loading dock!) All-in-all, very optimistic that this will be a very positive move for improving voter turnout!”—Renee Lutz, Manhattan

“AMAZEBALLS! There weren’t any lines, everyone was very friendly, and we were in and out within a few minutes. What a treat!”—Luci Ryan, Queens

Voters also shared some ideas for ways to improve early voting.

“It seems like the only real issues are ones you would expect. Poll workers getting used to a new iPad system, People not being fully aware they can vote early. Feels like it will take a few years for everyone to get on board, but it’s so important and helpful. 9 days of polling guarantees people will have at least one day off to be able to vote. Very happy NYC has done this.”—Tim Regan, Brooklyn

“The checking in process was quick and easy. It took almost 8 minutes to get my ballot. The polling place is in the basement of a public school. The electronic poll books need to connect to wifi. The wifi router was upstairs so it took a long time for the computer to access the data to print the correct ballot.”—Anne Hess, Manhattan

“We pulled up at the school at 283 Adams St. I literally got to the front door the second school ended, and was confronted by a sea of exiting students. Found the voting area, got checked in and waited – seems the machine which printed the ballots was out of paper, and I had to wait for an authorized person to reload it. Then bells started ringing and people were shouting – apparently it was a fire drill – I was standing at my little voting desk, while everyone else in the room vacated the building until the “All Clear” was declared. I guess it was not as bad as regular voting days, but this particular one was, for me, more than a bit surreal.”—Stuart Zagnit, Brooklyn

Many observed an abundance of poll workers at their polling sites; one person wrote, “It seems like they were overstaffed for the number of voters….. There were 20+ poll workers with only 3-4 voters in the room.” 

There’s actually a reason behind the high volume of polling site staff: The NYC Board of Elections is seeing this early voting period as a dry run for next year’s 2020 primary in April and then the big 2020 presidential election. The workers you’re seeing at the sites aren’t just poll workers, they also include NYC BOE employees who are taking notes for next year.

How early voting gets rolled out during next year’s pivotal election is still up in the air. Parents at some schools where early voting has essentially disrupted students’ day-to-day activities (no cafeteria, no gymnasium, no access to the playground) are hoping that the state legislature will amend election law to ensure that schools are not used as early voting sites going forward:

Did you vote early? Tell us about your experience here or below!

Brigid Bergin is the City Hall and politics reporter for WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @brigidbergin.





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