New Yorkers woke up early and spent hours queuing up in long lines as the first day of early voting for the 2020 election opened up today – joining other early voters across the country.
With polls not opening until 10am in New York, thousands were spotted patiently waiting at locations across the city and state, wearing face masks and practicing social distancing as they stood on line or sat in folding chairs brought in anticipation of long waits.
Today marks the first time that New York State have ever been allowed to vote early, the result of concerns about safety while the coronavirus pandemic continues.
For the first time in state history, New Yorkers were allowed to vote early beginning Saturday. People lined up for hours outside polling locations, including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center (pictured) to cast their ballots
Hundreds of people stood on lines for hours outside Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden (pictured) which was being used as an early polling location, one of 88 in the city
Early voters are shown socially distancing while standing on a line that wrapped around Madison Square Garden Saturday
Hundreds of early voters are seen standing on line as they approach the front of the line at Madison Square Garden
Early voters were also seen waiting on line to vote Saturday outside a Masonic temple in Brooklyn
In Manhattan, a voter named Ellen told the New York Post that she arrived at 7am to cast her ballot at Madison Square Garden, which is being used as a polling location for the first time.
An hour and a half later – 30 minutes before the polls opened – about 400 other people had lined up behind her.
‘We want to vote. We don’t want any hassle or any drama [or] to deal with anybody that might deter people from voting. We want to be safe,’ Ellen said of her reasoning for arriving at the polling location early.
Election officials said that they anticipated 60,000 people would vote at MSG, just one of 88 early voting sites in the city. An estimated 3.3million people in the city overall are expected to vote this year.
On the Upper East Side, early voters were seen queuing up in a double long line as they waited for the polls to open at 10am
The line of voters extended for blocks outside a community center in Brooklyn, which is being used as a polling station
People were seen reading, chatting and taking pictures while waiting on line to vote at New York’s Yonkers Public Library
The line outside Yonkers Public Library extended nearly as far as the eye could see Saturday morning
Voters are shown patiently waiting for their chance to cast an early ballot in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood
Voters stood on lines three rows deep as they waited to vote early at the Forum in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood
A Staten Island voter, Cecilia, 47, who had arrived two hours before polls opened up at a local church, said that it was ‘more convenient’ for her to vote early because it meant not having to take the day off from work to vote on November 3, Election Day.
She said she ‘came early, because I didn’t want to stand in line, standing so close to people.’
Social media users shared images of long lines extending at least three blocks away from polling locations in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in various locations throughout Brooklyn and on Long Island.
The wait times to get inside the polling locations were estimated to be about two hours, WPIX reported.
To keep people safe while voting inside the polling locations the Board of Elections has installed foot-operated hand sanitizing locations, added social distancing floor markers and distributed stylus pens voters take with them for marking ballots.
Fast-food and nursing home workers lined up to cast their early ballots during a ‘My Vote is Essential’ rally at Wayne County Community College in Detroit, Michigan, Saturday
While Ohio early voting began on tOctober 6, Saturday was the first day of weekend hours, which drew long lines of voter at the Board of Elections building in Cleveland, Ohio
The line outside the Cleveland Board of Elections building was so long that police had to divert the line of people off a nearby highway off-ramp and onto neighboring streets
Cleveland voters are pictured standing on an off-ramp near the Board of Election polling station Saturday
Voters who had lined up outside the Board of Elections building had to be diverted from the off-ramp by Cleveland Police
Residents of Ramapo, New York, are shown lining up outside the town hall to cast their votes early on Saturday
In New York City, voters were being urged to vote early in-person due to the Board of Elections being kept busy processing and counting the estimated 1million absentee ballots that have been requested so far.
The long lines seen through New York City were replicated in other cities around the country Saturday, even though early voting had already opened up days beforehand.
Although early voting in Ohio began on October 6, it was Cuyahoga County’s first day of weekend hours at in-person polling stations.
At the Board of Election building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the line wrapped around the block and then went up the off-ramp for Interstate 90 early in the morning, WKYC reported.
Cuyahoga County Democrats Executive Director Ryan Puente took to social media to share pictures of the extent of the line.
He also noted that Cleveland Police arrived about 30 minutes later and had to divert the line of early voters off the ramp and onto a nearby street.
In Detroit, Michigan, fast-food and nursing home workers lined up to cast their early ballots Saturday at Wayne County Community College, as part of a ‘My Vote is Essential’ rally.
The rally was sponsored by the two million-member Service Employees International Union and saw workers rallying and then marching to an early voting site.
Similar rallies were are expected to be held in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Philadelphia, according to Newsweek.
The Wall Street Journal reported that at least 23 states that allow early voting have already seen more people casting ballots than they did during the 2016 President Election.
Among them, battleground states Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.
Other states – including Texas, North Carolina and Georgia – are expected to bypass their 2016 numbers in days, even though there are still 10 days left before the general election.