I voted early for the very first time on Monday — and it was amazing.
As a jaded Brooklynite who has voted in almost every election for the past 20 years, I found the difference between regular Election Day voting and early voting to be revelatory. (Kind of like landing at San Diego International after taking off from LaGuardia.)
Early voting is the way voting is supposed to be. The energy is high, and election staffers are friendly. The process is computerized from beginning to end and everything works. You just tell the poll workers your name and they look up your information on their tablets. No more paper books.
In Brooklyn, there are 18 early voting sites set up (61 across the city), and yours may be different than your usual voting place. Don’t panic. You can easily find out where it is by typing your address here. If that’s not convenient, call 311.
My early voting site was the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice at 283 Adams St. in Downtown Brooklyn. It was easy to find the place: Red, white and blue Vote NYC arrows are stuck onto the sidewalks surrounding the school, pointing you right to the entrance.
School is open, but there is no mixing of voters and students. A woman sitting at a table right inside the building directs you to the cafeteria, where numerous tables and voting stations are set up.
Get this: You don’t have to go to a specific district table. The poll worker takes your information and then prints out a ballot suitable for your district, all within one minute. Then you walk the ballot to a private voting booth where, as usual, you fill in the circles next to your choices. After that you feed the ballot into the scanner. Finito.
Poll Inspector Grace Meulens says it’s about time New York got into the early voting business.
“It’s better for the people for the simple reason that people can’t come out to vote on Tuesday; they got to go to work,” Meulens told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Now they have Saturday and Sunday. What were they waiting for? Thirty states had it. New York? The biggest and the dumbest.” (New York is not the biggest state; jury’s out on if it’s the dumbest.)
The old registration book was “always incorrect,” Meulens added. “They never had the right addresses in it and we continuously had to make out affidavits. I think [early voting] is better.”
While Meulens is a Democratic inspector, her Republican tablemate, who didn’t want to go on the record, nodded her agreement.
“It’s bipartisan. Everybody is happy about it,” Meulens said.
This election, voters are deciding on five ballot questions that propose changes to the City Charter, and are also electing a candidate for the position of public advocate.
Inspector Jan Combopiano advised that people read their voter guide before coming to fill out their ballot.
“The proposals are in pretty small print, so it’s hard to read. So read about them in the voter guide or online, and that would really help,” she told the Eagle.
“People can always vote on the ballot marking device if they have a hard time reading it,” Combopiano added. “Anyone can use the ballot marking device. It makes the print bigger.”
On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday the polling sites are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Tuesday and Friday, they open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. On the weekend it’s 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All the 61 sites across the city have the same hours.
If your site seems like it’s too far to walk, Uber and Lyft are offering rides to early voting poll sites citywide at a 50 percent discount. To receive the discount, request a ride and use the code NYSVOTES2019 for Uber and NYCVOTES for Lyft. The discount is for a single ride (one way) and is good for up to $5 off, while rides are available.
More early voting information can be found here.