N.Y.C. Early Voting: When it Starts, and What to Expect


Weather: Foggy and drizzly early, then mostly cloudy. High in the mid- to upper 60s. Mostly cloudy again on Saturday, but brighter and mid-50s on Sunday.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Nov. 1 (All Saints Day).


Early voting begins in New York State on Saturday, but after a series of mishaps during the June primary election, many people are wondering — can New York City pull it off?

Early voting is still relatively new in the state. The election reform was signed into law just last year — making this the first presidential election in which New Yorkers can vote early. Early voting will be available until Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Initially, the city had trouble securing enough poll workers and early voting sites. Even now, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn fall short of the number of sites recommended under state law.

City election officials also assigned different locations for early voting. That irked some New Yorkers, who said their early voting site was farther than their Election Day site.

[After months of election mishaps, can New York City pull off early voting?]

To learn more about early voting in New York, I talked to my colleague Luis Ferré-Sadurní, who covers state politics. Our interview was edited for length and clarity.

Q: Why would someone choose to vote early?

A: The goal of early voting is to increase voter participation by making it more convenient to vote. Another reason to vote early is to avoid potentially long lines on Election Day, especially during a pandemic and a high-turnout presidential election.

What should voters expect at early voting sites?

Voters in New York City can vote only at the early voting location they’ve been assigned. So, it’s important to look up your location beforehand.

Voters in the rest of New York can vote at any early voting site in their county.

The city’s polling sites will look somewhat different from what you’re used to. You’ll be required to wear a mask. Floor markers will be used to ensure social distancing. Workers will regularly sanitize voting machines.

You’ll also receive a stylus pen, which you can keep as a souvenir, to sign your name in the electronic poll book and to mark your ballot, which you’ll receive after you check in.

Are there fears about the kinds of failures we saw during the primary?

Many voters have grown disillusioned with the New York City Board of Elections after its uneven handling of the primaries in June, when an avalanche of absentee ballots overwhelmed election officials.

That said, early voting was considered a success when it was first implemented in late 2019 and in the June primary. There were barely any lines, though only a fraction of registered voters showed up because it’s such a new voting option in New York.

Those elections, in many ways, were test runs for the presidential election, which is expected to bring out voters in record numbers. It remains to be seen whether election officials will replicate previous successes at a larger scale if many more people decide to vote early, as we’re seeing in other states.

Can everyone, even those who were mailed an absentee ballot, vote early?

All registered voters are allowed to vote in person at an early voting location.

If you’ve received an absentee ballot, you have the option to drop it off in person at any early voting site, where you’ll see a blue drop box for absentee ballots. You won’t have to wait in line.

You can also drop it off at a board of elections office and at an Election Day polling site no later than 9 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Of course, you can also mail in your ballot. The last day to request a ballot online is Tuesday.


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Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.


New York City public housing officials found 9,000 apartments where children were possibly exposed to lead. [Daily News]

An organizer of a group leading Black Lives Matter protests talks about his tense standoff with police officers this summer. He had broadcast the incident live. [Gimlet]

What we’re watching: Jeffery C. Mays, a politics reporter at The Times, discusses Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management of New York and his agenda for the remainder of his second term on “The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts.” The show airs on Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. [CUNY TV]


The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:

Although many performance spaces and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions for maintaining a New York social life this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.

Keep up with Election 2020

On Saturday at 3:30 p.m., join Nadina LaSpina, the author of “Such a Pretty Girl: A Story of Struggle, Empowerment, and Disability Pride,” for a conversation about her memoir and her experience as a disability activist.

Register for the free discussion on the event page.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., join the ecologist Thomas Crowther for a conversation about woodlands and the global ecosystem. Attendees can participate in a live Q. and A., enjoy a “leafed-out” playlist and make a brunch-friendly cocktail called the Lorax.

Access the free livestream by signing up for the Secret Science Club’s mailing list.

The Queens Historical Society celebrates contributions made by Italian-Americans in the borough on Sunday at 7 p.m. Enjoy an online exhibit by and an interview with the artist Clare Stokolosa, a performance by students at the Landrum School of Performing Arts and more.

Purchase a ticket ($10) on the event page.

It’s Friday — kick up your heels.


Dear Diary:

In 1975, between my junior and senior years of college, I worked as a “credit girl” at Bonwit Teller.

My job was to take calls from salespeople on the floor who called in “charge purchases” from customers.

I guess Bonwit didn’t require customers to use charge cards. Salespeople called us for permission instead. We would run to file drawers, look up the customer’s name and approve the charge (or not).

One day, a salesman in the shoe department called and told me that a certain customer wanted to charge the purchase of a pair of shoes.

The name was not one I was familiar with. I asked him to spell it, which he did. I ran to the file drawers, but I couldn’t find the name.

I got back on the phone and asked him to spell the name again.

He gave me a different spelling. I ran back to the files. No name.

I went back to the phone. Both the salesman and I were now getting frantic. He tried another spelling, but I still couldn’t turn up the name.

Finally, after trying yet another spelling, I found the customer.

At that point, the salesman berated me for taking so long. I told him I could go faster if he would learn how to spell.

“If I knew how to spell,” he said, “I wouldn’t be selling shoes.”

— Amy Sherman Smith


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