Lines wrapped around the block as elected officials and voting advocates kicked off the first day of early voting on Saturday, October 24, outside the Brooklyn Museum, at 200 Eastern Parkway, and around the city.
Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park) was joined by State Attorney General Letitia James, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, U.S Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-8th) and Yvette Clarke (D-9th), State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Prospect Park South Slope, Sunset Park), and Assemblymember Diana C. Richardson (D-Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Wingate, Flatbush), in collaboration with the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, Common Cause/NY, and Brooklyn Voters Alliance organizations all came out to encourage all New Yorkers to vote early.
“We stand here hopeful because reports of our democracy’s demise are greatly exaggerated,” said Myrie. “50 million people in this country have already voted, and we are on pace to have the highest presidential election turn out in over a century.”
Voters had started showing up early to get a jump on lines. By 10 a.m., said one line attendant, the line had already started snaking around the parking lot behind the museum. At 11: 40 a.m., the line extended around the corner, into and around the parking lot, and then back out and down Washington Avenue well past Crown Street.
The voters were of all ages and backgrounds, who carried chairs and books to entertain themselves in relative comfort during the hours-long wait to cast their ballots. Older voters gingerly sitting down wherever and whenever they could. A few people were angry about the wait and got out of line, said the attendant. But overall, even at the very back of the line, people said they were determined to make it through the expected wait to vote.
There are 27 major early voting polling places now open in Brooklyn. For locations and hours in Brooklyn and citywide, please click here. To search for your specific polling place for early or election day voting by home address citywide, click here.
“You’ve got nine days to vote,” said James. “No excuse.”
Myrie, as Chair of the Senate Elections Committee, worked to champion early voting laws in New York and introduced legislation back in January 2019. Just in time for this year’s tumultuous elections, noted Jeffries. “Anything can happen, particularly if we stay home and don’t vote,” said Jeffries, “Everything is on the ballot.”
Clarke, who had brought her elderly parents to the polling site, said that voting was a family affair and “removing 45 [President Donald Trump]” was a responsibility to coming generations.
Down Eastern Parkway, at the Brooklyn Public Library and Grand Army Plaza, a float with musicians and drummers gathered for #RuckUS2020, which is a multi-borough celebration that called for voter registration, voter planning, and voter protection leading up what has been consistently referred to this year as “the most consequential election.”
Organized by founding artists Laurie Anderson, Arto Lindsay, Melvin Gibbs, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, RuckUS in Brooklyn featured speeches from other city officials like Mayoral Candidates Maya Wiley, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and City Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Red Hook, Sunset Park, Greenwood Heights, portions of Windsor Terrace, Dyker Heights, and Boro Park).
RuckUs threw a series of festive parades and pop-up rallies with a wide range of performers and speakers at Grand Army Plaza, BRIC, and Cadman Plaza, while the main event in Manhattan was going on simultaneously.
“People are bringing their folding chairs,” said Wiley, about the really long early voting lines on Saturday, “because they will no longer tolerate profit over people in the White House. We will no longer tolerate the failure of a moral code that recognizes that the leadership, whether it’s in the White House or State House or any city or neighborhood, has to put the people first. We will vote him out because justice is on the ballot and we here in Brooklyn are going to hold it down for change.”
Stringer, at the Brooklyn Public Library location with Wiley, also spoke about the massive voting lines. “People all over the city are fighting and representing and taking on democracy, and we’ve got to make sure that we do that top to bottom. The day of taking our democracy back starts today,” said Stringer.
“If you haven’t seen what’s happening in the polling sites across the entire city, it hasn’t happened in our generation,” said Menchaca from the Cadman Plaza caravan. “There are lines around blocks, people waiting before the polls opened at 7 am because they’re excited for whatever. Maybe it’s to turn the page on the chapter of one of the worst presidencies of our entire country or because they just want their voices heard.”
Menchaca said that his district is about half foreign-born and that is reflective of New York immigrant populations. “In the last 10 years, we have seen more people become citizens and get the right to vote. Those are the folks that are at the polling sites right now, excited, with the kind of energy that is not only beautiful but it’s going to continue to transform the city,” said Menchaca.
Both the Manhattan group and Brooklyn group ended up at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village to round out the day.