Oct. 25 (UPI) — Long lines formed at polling sites in California and New York as both states opened for in-person voting Saturday.
This is the first election in which New Yorkers have been permitted to vote early, following the state legislature’s approval of early voting in 2019.
In New York City, lines stretched for blocks near polling sites and election officials dealt with malfunctioning electronic poll machines and anxious voters.
Voters also turned out to vote in California, where nearly 20% of eligible voters have already cast votes by mail. Officials hope to avoid a repeat of problems that troubled March’s primary election, during which 15 counties were unable to connect with the state’s election system.
In New York, most voters wore face masks, some wore gloves, and they tried to spread out at least six feet apart as they waited in line.
Last month, New York City’s board of elections sent 100,000 defective absentee ballots to voters, most located in Brooklyn, and some of the individuals standing in line Saturday told reporters they turned out for in-person voting because they preferred it to casting an absentee ballot.
“I don’t trust the Postal Service right now,” New Yorker Denise Gardner told the Washington Post.
And they said this year’s election was important enough to risk contagion.
“I am one of the ones that truly believes this is one of the most important elections we ever had,” 60-year-old Bryan Washington, also a New York resident, told the New York Times. “I truly believe this is an election for the soul of the country.”
According to Sarah Steiner, a New York election attorney who has represented candidates seeking public office, it’s not unusual to hear reports of long lines and other problems during the first day of early voting — and that those long lines are a sign of a better-than-expected turnout.
“There’s always a couple of glitches. This is an event for a lot of people, and it is a wonderful sign of civic engagement,” Steiner said.