With Early Voting beginning on Oct. 24, thousands of Nassau County voters have already cast their ballots ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3, thanks to a series of reforms passed by the State Legislature in 2019.
There are 15 polling sites where Nassau County residents can cast their ballot, with the closest site to North Shore communities such as Glen Cove and Oyster Bay stationed in Roslyn Heights.
Over the weekend, however, exercising civil duty was not the easiest task for many voters who waited on long lines in the cold fall air. On Sunday, the line for voting at Gayle Community Center stretched down Lincoln Street, wrapping around Locust Avenue.
“We are seeing a record number of people participate in the early voting process,” said State Assemblyman Charles Lavine. “We are already seeing that in Nassau and Suffolk, people are already waiting hours and in New York City people are waiting in line for hours as well.”
With no early voting sites available in Glen Cove, resident Linda Gehrkens Gambino made the approximately 20 minute trip to Roslyn Heights. If she had known there would be a long line, she said she would have brought a folding chair with her.
“[I waited] one hour and 50 minutes,” Gehrkens Gambino said. “The Gayle Community Center was feeding in from two entrances. I had a total hip replacement in May. While I did see that the entrance was handicapped accessible, there was no shorter line. Parking was abysmal too.”
The matter was brought up to Lavine, who commended Gehrkens Gambino for withstanding the conditions she described in order to practice her civil duty. “Our state law and our federal law already requires that every polling site has to be ADA [Americans with Disability Act] accessible,” Lavine said. “What happens when someone with some physical challenge has to wait in line for one, two or three hours to vote? That’s something that we’ll be addressing.”
Lavine, who is currently running for re-election for the District 13 assembly seat, said that among his greatest concerns are voting rights and voting resources for New Yorkers, especially for those in Nassau County cities Long Beach and Glen Cove that currently do not have an early voting site.
But still with many of these challenges in mind, such as long lines, many are still taking advantage of early voting to ensure that their ballot will be casted.
“You have to vote,” said Roslyn Heights resident Evelyn Garza, who showed up to vote with some friends from church on Sunday. “It’s very important to vote, just in case something might happen on Nov. 3, you never know. You have the opportunity to go vote, so get on it and go vote. Me and my girlfriends came to vote.”
The nine-day early voting schedule offers 83 hours of early voting — 60 are required — including evenings and weekends through Sunday, Nov. 1. Registered voters may cast their ballots at any of the listed locations, but if they do not, they must vote at their regular polling place on Nov. 3.
Residents will verify their voter registration on iPads, or electronic poll books, which have replaced physical poll books at each early-voting site and regular polling place. Using a stylus, poll inspectors will assist voters in signing their names and confirming their identities. Once their signatures are approved, the poll inspector will print ballots from a ballot-on-demand printer.
“No matter where you go, you’re getting your ballot,” said James Scheuerman, the Democratic commissioner for the Board of Elections.
Scheuerman also said that if residents submit their ballots during the early-voting period, it precludes them from voting on Election Day. “The poll pads sync up,” he said, “so after you vote, other poll books around the county, within one minute, will know that you voted to guard against double voting.”
Residents who have questions about the county’s early-voting procedures can visit www.nassauvotes.com.
The Board of Elections has advised voters that some states that have already begun their early-voting period have reported significant lines at polling sites.
To ensure ballots are cast at legitimate polling stations or deposited in legitimate drop-off boxes, voters are advised to be attentive. Report any suspicious activities or efforts to interfere with or disrupt voting immediately.
If in doubt, or to report any issues, please call the Nassau County Board of Elections: (516) 571-8683 for English; or La Junta Electoral Condado Nassau en Español: (516) 571-1245.
Timothy Denton contributed to this story.