Early Voters Face Cold Weather, Rain And Lines

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Despite the cold and rain, New Yorkers are still lining up to vote early.

Some lines have disappeared, but others remain.

Friday was day seven of early voting. As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reports, in the cold drizzle in Washington Heights, the line wrapped around the block to vote early, but it moved quickly.

“It’s my day off, got time. Might as well be here,” said voter Cierra Potter.

WEB EXTRA: Tri-State Area Voter Guide For Nov. 3 General Election

There was a much longer line on the Upper East Side at Robert Wagner middle school, but no line to drop off a mail-in or absentee ballot in the box outside.

Carol Lawson of the Upper West Side did just that for the very first time.

“We didn’t want to stand in a long line, and we didn’t want to be with a lot of people also,” Lawson said.

New York state made it much easier this election to request a mail-in ballot, all because of the pandemic.

In New York City alone, Board of Elections Secretary Frederic Umane says they sent out more than one million mail-in ballots, when historically they’d send about 100,000-150,000.

MORE: De Blasio Calls For Board Of Elections Overhaul After Waiting In Long Early Voting Line

“The processing for counting the mail-in ballots will be especially time consuming and so far, not too many people have been focusing on this issue,” Umane said.

He notes a June primary race in Manhattan took six weeks to tally because the Board is required to follow state law when counting, a process meant to be open and transparent.

“Each mail-in ballot is opened by a bipartisan team in front of a campaign, and the campaign has the right to object on an individual basis to every single one of those mail-in ballots,” Umane said.

He says this might not make a difference in liberal New York in the race for president, but it might in smaller races, like the hot congressional race on Staten Island.

Mail-in ballots must be dropped off or postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, and received by Nov. 10. So the Board cannot even start counting until a week after Election Day.

MORE: NYC Board Of Elections Extends Early Voting Hours As Long Lines Continue To Form Outside Polling Places

Still, Gov. Andrew Cuomo slammed the Board in a conference call Friday, saying it was unprepared for early voting, and needs an overhaul.

“It is a patronage mill, it has been for a long time. The status quo has protected it,” Cuomo said. “It is a disservice to the citizens.”

Umane told Grymes Thursday criticism is unfair. He warns all the mail-in ballots might not be counted until at least the first week of December.

MORE: NYC Board Of Elections Secretary Responds To Criticism Over Long Early Voting Lines: ‘I Think A Lot Of It Is Unfair’

As for voting in person, the Board has extended hours through the weekend to accommodate everyone. Still, be prepared to wait.

Then, no in-person voting on Monday, and Election Day, of course, is Tuesday.

The NYC Board of Elections has added an extra early voting location to the Upper East Side to deal with demand at Robert Wagner middle school. People assigned to Wagner can vote Saturday and Sunday at at Marymount Manhattan College on East 71st Street instead if they want.

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