NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The story of this election turns out to be one of early voting.
More than 1.1 million ballots were cast in New York City before polls opened Tuesday morning.
CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported seeing a few long lines early in the morning, but that first rush slowed down.
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So far Tuesday there have been just a few minor glitches, but overall voting has gone pretty smoothly, Duddridge reported.
It was a busy morning in Astoria, Queens, where voters lined up around the block waiting to cast their ballot at PS 70.
“It’s life-changing. Life-changing to everybody. Every color, every race,” said Harlem resident Estelle Santiago.
Santiago got in line – socially distanced – at 5:30 a.m. to cast her ballot at PS 194 on 144th street in Harlem.
Watch Natalie Duddridge’s report —
Volunteers from LoLo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem had been handing out free meals to voters since last week.
“Today the lines are much shorter, so people are just getting in and out,” said Leticia Skai Young, with LoLo’s Seafood Shack. “I don’t know why we haven’t done this before, but early voting, it’s the way to go.”
“What was voting like today?” CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez asked Harlem resident Fior But.
“It was wonderful. I just come and one, two, three,” But said.
“So easy, right?” Sanchez said.
“Yes, very easy,” But said.
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Polling sites were supposed to open at 6 a.m. at all 1,231 polling sites, but a handful of locations reported delays, like at PS 194, where doors were inexplicably still locked at opening time.
“There was a little problem in the beginning, but the fixed it really fast,” Santiago said. “The line was crazy. Everybody was coming to vote, and that’s the right thing to do today.”
“I got here around 6:30. It was a slight delay but it was fast, but I’ve got to go!” one voter said.
It was a different scene inside the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn, where by 9:30 a.m. you could vote in minutes, despite some voters complaining about a computer glitch. The Board of Elections says it was fixed fast.
“I figured I would come here on the actual day. It should be easy if everyone else was voting early,” said voter Maxwell Gonzalez.
“Everything’s been quite different, but you’ve got to come out and vote. And no line!” one voter said. “May the best man win.”
The enthusiasm was infectious in downtown Brooklyn, where a dance crew pumped up voters outside the Barclays Center.
Despite many saying voting in a pandemic was relatively easy, some New Yorkers are still bracing for protests and unrest, no matter who wins the presidency. Storefronts have been boarded up, and police have upped enforcement, keeping some on edge.
“Nerve wracking overall. There’s people here voting, trying to make a difference. At the end of the day it’s going to be whatever choice. It can go either way. It’s suspenseful,” said voter Rose Liz.
“It’s an important day for me, for change, because we need it. We’ve had a long, rough four years,” a voter named Dante said.
“I feel comfortable that I voted for the right person,” Harlem resident Carmen Melendez said.
The value of one’s right to vote was made very evident by Delia Garces, of Washington Heights.
At 107 years old, she voted in her eighth presidential election since she became a U.S. citizen 30 years ago.
Garces underwent a medical procedure on her leg Tuesday afternoon but says she wasn’t going to let that stop her from casting her ballot.
“Because there is a lot of things that needs to be changed,” Garces’ daughter said, translating for her mother who speaks Spanish.
Many voters say they anticipate the wait for results in the presidential race to take much longer than in the past, but they’re hopeful the final tally will be worth waiting for.
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