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De Blasio Calls For Board Of Elections Overhaul After Waiting In Long Early Voting Line

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Voters continued to stand in line for hours on the fifth day of early voting in New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, is calling for an overhaul of the city's Board of Elections.

People in Brooklyn told CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis they'll do what it takes to make sure their voices are heard in this election.

WEB EXTRA: Tri-State Area Voter Guide For Nov. 3 General Election

"It matters. Every vote matters," Corrine Williams said.

That's why she was waiting for vote early Wednesday.

"I would say there's three full blocks of waiting, and I've only finished one and a half, so I still have another block and a half left to go," she said.

Nearly 595,000 people across New York City voted over the first five days of early voting.

Voters continued to wait in long lines across New York City for the fifth day of early voting. (Credit: CBS2)

"I thought it was gonna be an in-and-out thing, but a lot of people are coming out, and I'm actually happy to see it," Williams said.

One woman said she waited three and a half hours to vote.

Seventy-six-year-old Isabel Griffith, of East Flatbush, waited two hours in the senior line at a Linden Boulevard polling place. The senior line alone stretched down the block.

"I didn't mind waiting one bit. It was worth it," Griffith said.

"We have space, not enough, but everybody has on a mask," voter Rita Davis said.

Senior citizens and people with disabilities are supposed to be in and out, but some were waiting two hours to get inside. Davis called for better arrangements for seniors.

"We shouldn't have to wait longer than a half hour," she said.

Watch Jenna DeAngelis' report --

Not all voters were OK with the long wait times.

CBS2's Ali Bauman met Cynthia and Nia Alvarez at the start of their nearly three-hour wait for early voting on the Upper East Side.

"It's voter suppression at its best," Cynthia Alvarez said.

"It's an entire district, and next thing you know, they're wrapped around, they're relying on one school to get their voices heard. It's ridiculous," Nia Alvarez said.

A bit farther up in line, Valerie Avellanet said she was sticking out the wait because she's lost faith in the Board of Elections.

"I got two absentee ballots. I requested one. Two days later, I got a military ballot, and then I felt very unsure about the whole thing, so I said, I'm just gonna go wait on the line and do it myself," she said.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio's Daily Press Briefing --

"People waiting three hours to vote in unacceptable," the mayor said Wednesday.

He waited that long himself Tuesday in Park Slope, where lines snaked around the block.

De Blasio, who does not control the Board of Elections, is calling for changes.

He wants a constitutional amendment to fundamentally change the BOE, legislation to "professionalize" the board to empower the executive director to run it as a more modern agency, and restructuring.

De Blasio said the Board of Elections should be bipartisan and functional.

"We just can't have people finding that their name is taken off the voter rolls. They can't find out where they're going to vote. They can't wait in line for hours. We can't have this anymore," he said.


In the meantime, de Blasio said the BOE should make more changes for the weekend.

"There's still time to increase the hours for early voting further, to get more machines over to the poll sites, to get more workers over there," the mayor said.

Issues at the polls aren't new for New York City voters, as seen in 2018, a year met with soggy ballots, voting machines breaking down and more long lines.

RELATED STORY: NYC Board Of Elections Extends Early Voting Hours As Long Lines Continue To Form Outside Polling Locations

The city Board of Election has refused CBS2's multiple requests for interviews and ignored all of our questions about the early voting lines for the past two days.

We even tried asking each commissioner who makes up the board individually but haven't gotten a single answer.

"They need to talk to you guys, and they need to have a better response of how they're gonna handle this as the years go on," Nia Alvarez said.

To encourage more people to come out, the city held a roundtable Wednesday reviewing voter rights. They say hundreds of election observers will be out on Election Day to tackle voter suppression.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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