What to Know
- The NYC Board of Elections was "clearly not prepared for this kind of turnout" during early voting over the weekend, which led to hours-long lines throughout New York as residents waited to cast their votes in person, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, urging the BOE to step up and "make adjustments immediately."
- The NYC Board of Elections said 193,915 people voted during early voting Saturday and Sunday.
- "Long lines tell people to go home," the mayor said. "That's just the reality. Long lines at a poll site discourage voting. They don't encourage it. We worked so hard over the last years to make voting, to make the Democratic process better. To make it more accessible."
The NYC Board of Elections was "clearly not prepared for this kind of turnout" during early voting over the weekend, which led to hours-long lines throughout New York as residents waited to cast their votes in person, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, urging the BOE to step up and "make adjustments immediately."
Voters across New York waited in long lines for hours to cast their ballots over the weekend during early voting in the presidential election. The NYC Board of Elections said 193,915 people voted during early voting Saturday and Sunday.
De Blasio said Monday that the BOE needs "this to be a better experience" for all New Yorkers who want to take part in the Democratic process.
"Long lines tell people to go home," the mayor said. "That's just the reality. Long lines at a poll site discourage voting. They don't encourage it. We worked so hard over the last years to make voting, to make the Democratic process better. To make it more accessible."
De Blasio called for the BOE to immediately increase the number of voting machines and must ensure that staff is available at early voting sites to assist voters. The mayor said there are voting machines on hold for Election Day, but he said that those machines should be brought out for early voting as well.
"The Board of Elections needs to step up," he said. "This is a historic moment. They need to act like it is a historic moment."
Additionally, de Blasio said, weekend hours for early voting is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but he says those hours should be expanded this upcoming weekend -- the last weekend before Election Day.
He also went on to say voters with special needs should not be waiting in long lines, but brought to the front of the lines to facilitate their voting.
"The solutions are staring us right in the face," he said. "So I am saying this to the Board of Elections, lets make these changes immediately for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are ready to vote in the days to come for early voting. And if the Board of Election says, 'we don't have the money,' let me say right now the City of New York will provide the resources."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who waited in line for 90 minutes to cast her ballot at the Parkchester polling site in the Bronx on Sunday morning, called hourslong wait times at many polling locations unacceptable and a form of voter suppression.
“It was a thrill to see how many people who are overcoming this injustice waiting in the lines anyway, bringing community supplies, snacks, lawn chairs,” the Democrat said at the site, where voters started arriving at 6 a.m., four hours before the polls opened. “We are going to overcome this hurdle, so we can elect the folks that will make sure that this is not a problem in the future.”
Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday, “I heard that there was a tremendous number of people voting, which is very exciting." On Monday, however, he shared similar sentiments to those expressed by de Blasio.
"I think the Board of Elections of New York City did a terrible job. Terrible. And it is not the first time and I think I would be open to an entire redesign of the New York City Board of Elections system. I'd be open to whatever the city proposes," Cuomo said during his Monday coronavirus press briefing, adding: "The New York City Board of Elections blew it."
Robert Mujica, the state's budget director, also railed against New York City's Board of Elections saying that the state provided millions of dollars in additional funding to the BOE directly for early voting, "but every election -- primary, general -- New York City Board of Elections has a different excuse for their management failure. State did provide additional funding. They failed again, as they do on a regular basis...they need to fix themselves, but we did provide additional funding."
The New York City Board of Elections said 93,830 people voted on the first day of early voting Saturday, nearly double the total number for all nine days of early voting for the primaries in June.
Turnout was also heavy in upstate New York. In Syracuse, voters lined up down the block outside a polling site at a community center Sunday morning. Dustin Czarny, Onondaga County elections commissioner, said 8,473 of the county’s 328,052 registered voters had checked in to the polls as of 1:45 p.m. Sunday, surpassing the total votes on the first year of early voting in New York in 2019.
In western New York, the Erie County Board of Elections reported that nearly 15,000 ballots were cast on the first day of early voting on Saturday, or 2.3% of the county’s registered voters. The Monroe County Board of Elections reported 9,503 voters cast their ballots Saturday.
In Albany County, 3,472 of the county’s 175,000 registered voters cast ballots on Saturday, according to the county board of elections. Schenectady County said nearly 3,000 of the county’s 99,000 active registered voters cast ballots Saturday.
I-Team Election Project
“Other than seeing some long lines, we did not have any reports of any major issues,” Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior advisor to Cuomo, said at midday Sunday.
Brian Warner, one of hundreds of masked people who stood in long lines at Albany County’s six polling places on Saturday, took the waiting in stride.
“We stand in line to buy tickets to concerts, we stand in line to buy tickets to sporting events, we stand in line to go to the movies,” Warner told WTEN at a polling site in Cohoes. “Standing in line to vote is not a problem.”
De Blasio said that although early voting was presented with high volume of voters and therefore some challenges, it is still a great alternative to Election Day, which he suspects will see a massive turnout and encouraged voters to take advantage of it.