NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Politicians and advocacy groups are trying to get the word out that for the first time in history early voting is a reality in New York state.
The city Board of Elections says its ready, and elected officials are trying to get the word out to voters.
CBS2’s Andrea Grymes spent Tuesday morning at a voting rally in Washington Square Park in Manhattan, an event hosted by state Attorney General Letitia James and other groups to promote the first year of early voting.
In the misty rain, a big message was sent to voters across the state.
“It’s really critically important that you won’t have just one day to vote but in fact you’ll have 10 days to vote, including two weekends. So, there’s no excuses,” James said.
Starting this Saturday, Oct. 26 through the following Sunday, Nov. 3, voters can cast their ballots ahead of Election Day on Nov. 5.
“And that will hopefully get New York out of the cellar of voter participation. We have been 48th out of 50in this country in terms of voter participation,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said.
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On Tuesday morning, Gianaris toured a voting machine facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, with city Board of Elections head Michael Ryan.
The board has gotten slammed in the past for problems on Election Day, from long lines to inadequate staffing to broken machines.
This time, Ryan says his group is ready. He pointed out several changes, including the transition from paper to electronic poll books, which will speed up the voter identification process.
Despite the excitement of early voting, some parents are concerned about security at local schools being used as polling sites, and the disruption to students.
“Although the Board of Elections has promised us extra security, has promised us extra staff, we don’t know that that’s actually going to happen. We haven’t gotten anything in writing,” said Gilberte Lal, the co-president of the PTA at Public School 116 in Manhattan.
Ryan said parents shouldn’t be fearful.
“First and foremost, we’re working very closely with the schools and with the Police Department to make sure the security at these locations is handled professionally and appropriately. It is of paramount concern,” Ryan said.
Early voting is open to any registered voter, so there is no need to sign up ahead of time. You do not need a special reason to participate. In the city, there are only 61 early voting locations, compared to the more than 1,200 for Election Day, Grymes reported.
It’s also important to note that your early voting location may be different than your Election Day location, so make sure you consult with the board or your local elected official to make sure you go to the right place. For more information on your local polling place, please click here.