Masked and waiting in line for hours in increasingly crisp October weather, more than 200,000 New York voters cast early ballots on Saturday, the first day of early voting in New York.
It was the first time New Yorkers in the modern era cast early ballots in a presidential election since a new law took effect last year.
Polling places had lines hundreds of people deep on Saturday and Sunday, accorind to elections officials.
The year to year comparisons are obviously difficult given the presidential election season. But the vote is also being held amid a pandemic, and officials had urged voters to cast ballots early in order to avoid a rush of people to the polls on the day of the general election, Nov. 3.
Still, it wasn't clear how many voters would show up on the first weekend of voting given the relative lack of muscle memory for casting a ballot a full two weeks away from the election.
“In a normal year, early voting provides more days, hours and opportunities for New Yorkers to participate in our democracy," said Sen. Zellnor Myrie, the Brooklyn Democrat and lead sponsor of the early voting measure that was approved last year.
"During the pandemic, early voting will help reduce crowds and wait times at poll sites, and give more New Yorkers a chance to vote safely and securely. I am extremely proud to have authored the bill allowing early voting in New York, and encourage anyone who feels comfortable doing so to consider voting early this year."
Republicans, too, are urging their supporters to cast ballots early. State GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is touring the state with the party's candidates for elected office, including key congressional and state legislative races. The bus tour this weekend began in the Hudson Valley.
Early voting continues this week; dates vary by county. It ends Nov. 1.