This story was reported by Kari Jensen.
Not known for sitting back, New Yorkers turned out in record numbers to vote this past weekend. Nearly 200,000 people participated in early voting in New York City – about 93,000 on Saturday and 100,000 on Sunday, according to Gothamist.
Some, such as Susan King and Kathleen Thomas, went a step further, and even dressed for the part. Ms. King wore a black face mask emblazoned with the word “Vote” in white letters, while Ms. Thomas pinned a “Vote” button to her lapel, as they walked up to the early polling site at Campos Plaza Community Center on East 13th Street.
“You should vote for all of them,” Ms. Thomas said. “We should go to all of the local [elections], especially, because that’s where it starts.”
“You should always vote,” Ms. King said. “I’m a woman. I’m an immigrant. Lots of times, people haven’t had the opportunity like me to vote and get to vote, so that’s why I vote.”
“And you’re a citizen here,” Ms. Thomas chimed in.
Some New Yorkers say that it’s more important than ever to vote. They have a myriad of reasons to turn out, given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, including high unemployment, business and school closures, and slow economic recovery. In addition, the pandemic has highlighted racial disparities – disproportionately affecting Black and Latinx people.
At Campos Plaza Community Center and Corlears Complex, another early voting poll site on Henry Street, people talked about the importance of voting early, encouraging others to vote, and continuing to be engaged not only in this election, but in future elections. Christina Zhang voted early Saturday at Corlears Complex. She said it was important to participate in a democratic process. “Everyone’s been saying, ‘Vote early. Vote in person if you can,'” Ms. Zhang said. “I felt like it was very important for me to come here in person – despite the pandemic – and cast my ballot.”
Anne Wentworth and Rachelle Lasquite also voted early Saturday at Corlears Complex, sporting their “I Voted Early” stickers on their denim jackets afterward. Ms. Lasquite said the Nov. 3 election is changing the trajectory of how the pandemic will play out and the climate will play out.
“It’s important to vote for the change that you want to see in the next four years,” she said. Ms. Wentworth said the “character of the country” is on the Nov. 3 ballot. “We have to think about systemic racism and how many years we have to turn around our carbon emissions and that kind of thing,” she said. “Those are very real things that don’t really have a party. It’s more about what we need to do to take better steps forward, in general, in the country. So it’s important for everybody to be heard.”
At Campos Plaza Community Center on Sunday, Elise Fischer voted, while Daniel Nauke waited outside with their mixed-breed dog, Vonnegut. (Mr. Nauke, who wore a black “Vote” face mask, had cast his ballot at this same location the day before). After Ms. Fischer finished, the two of them talked enthusiastically about voting. “Whatever you believe in, you got to get out and vote, so we voted,” Mr. Nauke said. “At the bottom level of your civic duty is to vote.” It’s important for voters to participate in all elections, not just presidential elections, he said.
Ms. Fischer pointed out that early voting meant that people had nine days to vote in person (from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1), whereas in past presidential elections in New York they only had the actual Election Day. “They’ve started the early voting and I want it to continue, so that’s the other reason I’m voting early,” Ms. Fischer added. “I could vote on Tuesday [Nov. 3] and I had an absentee ballot, but I think this is a great process. People should have a long time to vote, not like one day, or you have to be paralyzed. I like opening it up, rather than closing it up.”
This was the first time in New York that early voting was allowed for a presidential election. People can also vote in person on Election Day, Nov. 3, or by absentee ballot. Find your polling station and more information here.