By Allie Jorge and Eric DiCrescenzo
Over 5,000 Long Island residents cast their votes ahead of Election Day, for the first time ever in New York State history, this past Saturday.
More than 200 polling stations were made available for people to come in and vote early across the state of New York, easing the strain that voting has become for some who are overwhelmed with busy schedules. Of the stations in New York, Long Island is the host of 25 locations – 15 in Nassau County and 10 in Suffolk County. This year’s votes are going towards candidates for local legislators’ and county representatives’ positions.
“We are continuing to have good turnout at all of our early voting sites in Nassau,” James Scheuerman, Democratic Commissioner of the Nassau County Board of Elections, said. “Voters seem very excited to have this option.”
This year, Suffolk has trained and recruited more than 8,000 people to volunteer at the polling sites across the county, and has collected over 2,200 ballots from its residents on the first day alone. “I think this is great for the voters,” Jimmy Lagias, a supervisor for the Board of Elections, said. “Think about it, now they don’t have to worry about rushing on the Election Day to go vote! They can vote anytime they want.”
Suffolk County’s elementary school in Nesconset showed a large turnout of over 200 people for the early voting period on the first day, and not one spot in the parking lot was left empty. In fact, open spots on the curbs of Gibbs Road and those surrounding the school were difficult to come by, as well.
“I think it’s great,” Alan White, a Smithtown voter, said. “I hope a lot of people take advantage of it, especially if they find themselves busy on election day . . . the more people that vote, the better it is.”
The difference in the amount of stations available between Long Island’s two counties, however, has raised speculation among residents about how these disparities may affect local government in the coming year.
“I think more people would come if they knew about it. It would easily get older people out, and people who are not working,” Walter O’Connell, a Nesconset voter, said. “The more places [you have], the more votes you’re going to have . . . especially when people can’t travel far, being older.”
On the first day of early voting, compared to the 2,200 that voted in Suffolk, “3,236 people voted in Nassau County,” Bonnie Garone, the counsel to the Democratic Commissioner, said.
“There won’t be as many convenient opportunities [for everyone] – the whole thing about this is to make it convenient for people, I think. The more voting places here, the better it would be,” Angela White, another Smithtown voter, said. She said she was lucky to have had a day off so she could take the time to cast her ballot, since she will be working on Election Day.
The early voting period in both Suffolk County and Nassau County for registered citizens will continue until Sunday, November 3.