By Bob Cooley
In what leaders and many citizens have called “a fight for the soul of our nation,”West Villagers and New Yorkers turned out in massive numbers during the initial day of first-ever early presidential voting in the state.
1,211 West Village residents turned out to cast their early vote at the community space of St. Anthony’s of Padua on Sullivan St., just one of the 88 early polling places across the five boroughs, along with hundreds who showed up to hand in their absentee ballots in person. Overall 93,830 New Yorkers checked in for early voting on the first day.
Village resident Nicole DeFilippi, who showed up 30 minutes before the polls opened at 10 am on Saturday with her mother, Lori, said her wait in line was 2 ½ hours until they made it inside the polling center. Of her experience in the line, she said, “Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I was nervous at first that it would take like four or five hours, but once the doors opened, the line kept moving pretty quickly… for the most part everyone was polite and kept socially distanced, and nobody was yelling at anyone politically, which was a nice change of pace.”
Of why she came out this Saturday to cast her vote early, “I’ll be working on Election Day, and wouldn’t be able to take off for a long wait in line on Nov. 3rd, and if I can do anything in my power to get Donald Trump out of the White House, I will do it.”
Her only critique was that she thought there could have been more people with signs, so people knew where the end of the line started. This was an issue that also concerned Board of Elections workers, with a representative of the BoE stating, “Unfortunately, we can only legally control the area 100 ft. from the polling center, but people have been well-mannered and organized in maintaining a line that continues for many blocks.”
And indeed, the line was long—by midday, it snaked throughout the surrounding neighborhood for over nine blocks.
According to the U.S. Elections Project, approximately 56.5 million Americans have voted early this election as of Oct 24th, which could amount to the highest voter turnout in over a century.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise again across the country, having multiple safe choices for voting is critical to our democracy.
Early voting will continue until Sunday, Nov. 1st, and the general election will take place on Nov. 3rd as usual. Go to www.vote.nyc to find information on registration, mail-in voting, early voting, and the in-person polling places for both early voting and voting on Election Day. Note that early-voting locations often differ from where you cast your ballot if you wait until election day.
Writer Bio: Bob Cooley is a photojournalist and communications strategist who lives in the West Village. He’s spent over 30 years creating photography for publications including LIFE Magazine, Forbes, The Economist, Sports Illustrated, The Associated Press, and many others. You can see more of Bob’s work at www.bobcooleyphoto.com