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

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Tuesday was the fourth day of early voting in New York, and there were still long lines outside polling locations across the city.

The line outside the Park Slope YMCA snaked around several blocks. At times, there was about a three-hour wait to get inside.

The polls closed at 8 p.m. Those who were in line by that time were still able to vote, and the last few people were inside by 9 p.m.

CBS2's Ali Bauman reports that was the fastest the lines had moved all day.

The waits were just as long at other sites around the city. There were droves of voters zigzagging in SoHo and Lincoln Center. Some stood in line for up to six hours on the Upper East Side.

MORE: Tri-State Area Voter Guide

Voters came prepared, bringing lawn chairs to sit in and books to read.

"Two and a half hours in. Can't wait to get in that door," voter Sofia Rivera said.

"I was concerned about the reliability of mail-in ballots, so I decided to come in person and do it this way," voter Romaine Haffenden said.

New Yorkers waited in long lines on day four of early voting. (Credit: CBS2)

Most people who spoke to CBS2 were not angry but say the wait is annoying and could have been avoided with better planning.

"It's a turnoff, I'd say, but if you know why you're here, then you will stay. That's the only reason I'm here," voter Muller St. Pre said.

"I definitely feel like probably we could have more polling places open in this time. I think that probably would have helped a lot because I know this is the only location for this neighborhood," voter Jeremy Bent said.

RELATED STORY: New York City Officials Call On Board Of Elections To Address Early Voting Lines

The city Board of Elections announced extended early voting hours for this weekend.

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

Over 450,000 people in New York City have voted in person over the past four days.

Mayor Bill de Blasio cast his vote Tuesday after waiting about three hours in line in Brooklyn.

"There's not enough sites, there's certainly not enough machines, there's not enough staff, there's not enough hours," he said.

After casting his vote, the mayor handed out pizza to those still in line.

Mayor Bill de Blasio waited in line for several hours to vote early in Brooklyn on Oct. 27, 2020. (Credit: CBS2)

The mayor says the extended voting hours are not enough.

"I want to see much longer hours. I want to see more machines, more people, more answers so we can make sure that people who come out to vote don't wait hours and hours," he said. "This is crazy. This is crazy. Look at all these good people, patient people."

The mayor blamed the Board of Elections for not being better prepared.

Long before the pandemic, the BOE was under fire two years ago for exorbitant wait times in 2018's midterms.

Its executive director, Michael Ryan, told CBS2 at the time, "Certainly there are many fixes that could happen moving forward."

"We knew more people were gonna be voting this year because of the pandemic, so why did it take until now to start making changes?" Bauman asked the mayor.

"Look, the Board of Elections is entirely unaccountable. It's a backwards organization. It has to be changed. They knew this was coming, they put together a plan that didn't work. They should own it, they should fix it right now while they can, and then we should go to the bigger work of changing the board and getting rid of the structure once and for all," de Blasio said.

The mayor also offered up more funding and supplies to the BOE if needed.

CBS2 reached out to the BOE several times for an interview or comment and have not gotten a response.

RELATED STORY: NYPD Unveils Plan To Protect New Yorkers During Elections: 'If Anyone Tries To Interfere With Anyone's Right To Vote, We Will Take Action'

Early voting is open through Sunday, Nov. 1.

Voters have an assigned early voting location, and start times fluctuate depending on the day and location. Locations will also be different on Election Day.

If you're voting by mail, the U.S. Postal Service suggests Tuesday is the deadline to make sure your mail-in ballot arrives in time to be counted.

In New York, you can still request an absentee ballot in-person until Nov. 2, and it must be postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 10.


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