BY JACOB KAYE AND DEAN MOSES
More than 40,270 Queens residents cast their ballots for the 2020 election season this past weekend, the first two days of early voting in New York City.
The 18 early voting sites in Queens were marked by long lines and a general mistrust of voting by mail. But at the same time, the lines, which often saw wait times upwards of two hours, were packed with enthusiastic voters, excited to practice their most fundamental civic duty during the historic first weekend of early voting.
“We see it as our duty to [vote],” said Betty Vasquez-Stevens, a voter casting her ballot at Queens College told QNS. “We have that right and we wanted to exercise that right.”
Vasquez-Stevens and her husband, James Stevens, have made a tradition of bringing their sons to the polls, hoping to get them involved in political life at an early age. Practicing the right to vote, they said, has never been more important.
Expecting others to feel the same way, the Vasquez-Stevens family thought early voting would be a good way to avoid the crowds on Nov. 3, the day of the general election.
“We wanted to get it in early and not just wait for the maddens of actual election day,” Stevens said. “We wanted to get it over with but we did not expect these lines.”
The family arrived at Queens College at 11:15 a.m., on Sunday, Oct. 25. It wasn’t until 2:45 p.m., that they had cast their ballot.
Wait times at early voting sites across Queens were similar both days of the weekend. On Saturday, Oct. 24, approximately 19,200 Queens residents cast a ballot. The next day, a little over 21,000 voters went to the polls early.
“It was fun to do, but the wait wasn’t that fun,” said Haram Asim, a voter at Queens College who was casting her ballot for the first time. “The wait was about three hours. I didn’t expect to be waiting that long. I thought early voting meant quicker voting.”
Though the lines were long, many voters felt voting in-person at an early voting site was worth the wait. Some voters shared doubts about the security of voting by mail – a concern that has largely been unfounded – while others felt that in a year marred by COVID-19, a disease that has caused one of the largest mass death event in U.S. history, long lines were nothing to be frustrated by.
“I personally think the whole coronavirus situation has made people a bit more tolerant,” said Ira Obusan, who was voting with his family at LaGuardia Community College.
Obusan also expressed his worry that President Donald Trump won’t accept the results of the election if he loses, a statement the president himself has confirmed multiple times.
“Unfortunately, with the way a certain party member is pitching that it’s going to be a fraudulent result, I wanted to make sure there was no wiggle room out so to speak,” Obusan said.
Early voting in Queens continues through Sunday, Nov. 1. Voters must cast their ballots at their designated early voting site, which can be found here.
Find below the operating hours of all early voting sites.
- Monday, Oct. 26, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 27, from noon to 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 28, from noon to 8 p.m.
- Thursday, Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Friday, Oct. 30, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Want to share your experience with early voting? Email firstname.lastname@example.org about your experience and a reporter may reach out to you to follow up.