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Board of Elections moves to extend early voting hours amid long wait times

October 27, 2020 Marina Villeneuve Associated Press and Noah Singer Brooklyn Eagle
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As New Yorkers streamed into early voting lines for the fourth straight day Tuesday, the New York City Board of Elections announced it had voted to extend early voting hours for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The decision, spurred by turnout that has resulted in hours-long waits at Brooklyn polling places, with some lines wrapped twice around city blocks, could add nine hours to the final three days of early voting in the city.

A Board of Elections representative noted that the change may not be practical for all voting sites.

Voters waited in line to vote at the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday.

“It is our intention to do it, but we may not have the ability to do it for all sites, but that’s what we’re going to try to do,” said BOE Secretary Frederic Umane.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Previously, city voting locations had planned to open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, and now will remain open in some locations until 5 p.m.

On Saturday, locations were previously set to be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and may now be open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday’s hours were originally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will expand at some sites to 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

State election officials said Tuesday that nearly 400,000 people had voted at in-person polling stations Saturday through Monday in New York City. Over 710,000 people had voted in person statewide.

Among the people braving another day of long lines for early voting was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who joined the end of a half-mile-long queue at his Brooklyn polling location, the Park Slope Armory, in the early afternoon.

“Everyone else is waiting,” the Democrat said, saying he intended to tough it out, too. Some people ahead of him had already been there for more than two hours.

Andy Wagner wore a mask emblazoned with the word “vote” as he waited in line to cast his ballots at the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday.

For voters who would rather not cast their ballot in person, Tuesday was the last day to apply for an absentee ballot online, by email, by fax or mail.

New York is the largest of over two dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio, where voters can request an absentee ballot as late as seven days before the election.

Reports of long waits at early voting sites have led to criticism that there are too few voting locations in the city and state. There are 280 early polling sites statewide, including 88 in New York City.

In 35 counties, there is only one early voting site.

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said his county’s already surpassed all early votes cast in 2019 and called on his county board of elections to expand hours and add additional polling locations.

“With five more days of early voting remaining, we must bolster our efforts and do everything that we can to ensure all of our residents can vote safely and quickly,” he said.

To find your early voting location, click here.

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