On the first day of early voting in New York on Saturday, tens of thousands of people waited in long lines — often for hours on end — to cast their ballots.
Social media was abuzz with videos and photos of snaking voting lines outside polling places across the state.
At Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, the voting line stretched across multiple blocks — and, according to The New York Times, more than 750 people were still in line after polls officially closed on Saturday.
One of the voters in the line, Emmanuel Vazquez, 25, told the paper that he’d waited for three hours to cast his ballot.
“I’m tired, I’m hungry and I want to go home,” Vazquez said. “But I’m just thinking about how worth it this will feel in a few weeks. And that’s keeping me alive right now.”
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Some New Yorkers criticized the long lines and the apparent lack of adequate infrastructure to handle the onslaught of early voters. The Times reported that some polling centers in New York City had issues with malfunctioning polling machines on Saturday.
Still, many New York voters said they were undeterred by the long wait times. In New York City alone, more than 80,000 votes were cast on Saturday, the city’s Board of Elections said.
“Given this year and given the current president we need to send a clear message that his policies don’t work, that they’re offensive, that they don’t represent American values,” Vanessa Reilly, a 38-year-old Brooklynite who waited in line to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, told Reuters.
Early voters in several other states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Alabama, also showed up in droves to cast their ballots on Saturday.
Already, more than 56 million Americans across the country have cast early ballots either in person or by mail. At this rate, the U.S. could see the highest voter turnout rate since 1908, Reuters noted, citing data from the U.S. Elections Project.