NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — For the first time in a presidential election, New Yorkers are being allowed to vote early — and it seems they’re pretty excited about it.
So many turned out over the weekend, 193,915, that many of the city’s 88 polling stations were overwhelmed.
Lines stretched around the block outside Madison Square Garden Saturday, with voters telling NewsNation they spent up to three hours waiting to cast their ballots. Many said it was well worth it to take part in what they feel is a crucial election year.
Charles Montorio-Archer of Manhattan pointed out that they’re all important. “Regardless of who you’re voting for,” he said, “it’s important that we come out and exercise our right.”
The long waits brought some harsh words from both New York’s governor and the city’s mayor.
“The New York City Board of Elections blew it,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when asked about the delays at the end of Monday’s coronavirus briefing.
“The Board of Elections clearly was not prepared for this kind of turnout,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who suggested extending voting hours and adding machines. Some voting machines are being held back for use on Election Day.
Mayor de Blasio says they should be brought out now.
“Long lines tell people to go home. That’s just the reality,” he said. “Long lines at a polling site discourage people from voting, they don’t encourage it.”
Monday was a much better day at the polls. At their peak, the wait at Madison Square Garden was no more than 45 minutes; still long, but a marked improvement from the weekend.
Despite a cold drizzle, Maggie Chapman said she was excited to be there.
“It’s tremendously important,” she said. “It is the future of our country.”
“You can’t complain if you don’t, right?” quipped a smiling Tony Zisa as he headed for a voting booth.
About 46% of New York state’s ballots were cast in New York City over the weekend. The local Board of Elections did not respond to an email request for comment on the long lines and what might be done to shorten them.
Early voting continues through Nov. 1.