With so many New Yorkers voting early and by absentee ballot, what will poll sites look like on Election Day?

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — So far, about two million New Yorkers have already voted through early voting or by absentee ballot. And there’s a possibility that the already high turnout could put a dent in the number of people who head out to vote on Election Day itself.

“I definitely do think that there will be a reduction in lines on Election Day. And the State Board of Elections had initially predicted around eight million voters would turn out for this election. So if we have two million now, let’s say ideally, we get another million by the weekend, that will hugely reduce what we would have seen on Election Day,” said Jennifer Wilson with the League of Women Voters of NYS.

“There will probably be lines across the state, but it certainly will not be as bad as it could have been if those folks hadn’t voted already,” said Sarah Goff with Common Cause New York.

Early voting was first implemented in New York State in 2019. But this is the first early voting period for a presidential election. 

“For the last election, we had heard some criticism that ‘oh, no one’s using this.’ I think we had a total of like a little over 200,000 voters vote early, but it was an off-election year. It was a local election year, primarily, so that was still very good. We had over a million more voters turn out for that local election year,” she said.

While no one could have predicted a global pandemic, voter advocacy groups are grateful early voting is an option and that there was time to learn from the rollout last year. 

“There’s a lot of other northeastern states that are not in the same position as us that are going to have six-plus hour-long lines on Election Day that we will probably not have, which is great,” Wilson said.

According to the State Board of Elections, there will be about 5,000 poll sites open for Election Day, and polls will be open for 15 hours.

Additionally, if someone has requested or submitted an absentee ballot, but then decides that they would like to vote in person instead, they are able to do so. The Board of Elections checks during the canvassing process and will set an absentee ballot aside if they find that individual voted in person.

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