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Calls to expand early voting are being answered

Oct 28, 2020 3:33 pm

So far, 20 percent of the entire number of 2016 ballots have already been cast in New York this year. There are many reports that early voting in Columbia and Greene counties takes anywhere from 15 minutes to over two hours, depending on the time of day. It took a WGXC staff member 90 minutes to vote in Catskill Oct. 25. In Fishkill in Dutchess County, Laura Turner told the Poughkeepsie Journal it took her two hours and 23 minutes to vote on Oct. 27. Beacon resident Susan Lagomarsini was behind Turner in line to vote. “In 2016, I went in and out in my polling place, but here we are for 2 hours and 23 minutes, but this is so important we had to be out here,” she said. “We didn't want to wait for Election Day, we wanted to be part of the millions and millions, the ground swell that came out." Early voting times may even be expanded because of the lines. The Schenectady County Board of Elections announced on Oct. 27 that an additional hour for voting will be added this weekend. And the Westchester County Board of Elections will keep early-voting locations open an extra hour through the next five days. "The good news is that in just three days we have surpassed all early votes cast in 2019. However, this unprecedented increase in early voting has also resulted in many having to wait hours just to cast their ballots,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said in an emailed statement. “With five more days of early voting remaining, we must bolster our efforts and do everything that we can to ensure all of our residents can vote safely and quickly. Therefore I am calling upon the Ulster County Board of Elections to expand hours at our five existing sites, add additional polling locations, and take any other actions allowed by law to ensure a smooth process for voters.” New York has an election law requiring that “county boards shall deploy sufficient voting equipment, election workers, and other resources so that voter waiting time at a poll site does not exceed 30 minutes.” And, clearly, a 30-minute wait to vote is being exceeded at many early-voting polling places at different times. But maybe the wait won't be so long on election day itself? Because of all the early voting, and voting by mail, “If people show up on Election Day, there will be no lines,” Dutchess County Republican Elections Commissioner Erik Haight predicted.
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