Early voting draws 96,000 in Queens 1

People waited two hours to cast their vote at the Metro Mall in Middle Village on Saturday, the first day of early voting in the city.

No one could remember anything quite like it.

A few hours after early voting began last Saturday, a worker at the Middle Village polling site on Metropolitan Avenue said there had been 80 people waiting on line to vote when he arrived at 8:30 a.m. that morning.

“Never seen anything like it,” he said.

All over Queens, the wait to cast the first ballots in this year’s contentious presidential election was reported to be several hours.

Opening the polls 10 days before Election Day, a practice long-established elsewhere around the country, was authorized in New York only last year.

This is the first time it has been done in a national election year.

At the Board of Elections storage facility in the Metro Mall, the line doubled back in front of the huge building that once housed Toys ‘R’ Us and K Mart outlets and then tracked down the side.

Voters clocked the wait at two hours to get into the Middle Village facility to vote.

“I thought it might be an hour,” said Jaclyn Brackhaus of Ridgewood as she neared the end of a two-hour wait.

She needed to come out early, she said, because her husband was set to work at another early voting site later this week.

Saturday was the only chance they had to come out to vote together.

In Jamaica, reports were that voters were waiting two and a half hours at York College.

The city’s Board of Elections said 19,223 people voted in the Queens on Saturday, the first day of early voting.

On Sunday, the wait times appeared to be much shorter despite the fact that more voters, 21,055, turned out, the BOE said.

And through Tuesday, the total had risen to 95,899, which put Queens in the middle of the boroughs for overall turnout. And the BOE increased the hours people can vote on the remaining days. [see separate story].

The mood on line at several polling sites visited over the weekend was friendly and orderly, despite the long waits. People said it was important that they come out to vote. Poll workers reported no incidents.

In Bayside, at the Korean Community Center on 32nd Avenue — site of the former Bayside Jewish Center, a victim of the changing demographics of the neighborhood — the lines stretched around the building on Sunday. But the wait was just 15 to 20 minutes, voters said.

In a reminder that this year’s election includes other contests besides that for the White House, the GOP candidate for Queens borough president, Joanne Ariola, was in Bayside around noon to work the line of waiting voters and promote her underdog campaign against the Democratic favorite, City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton).

At York College, which reported the largest turnout in the borough over the weekend, the wait was about an hour on Sunday.

Voting continues through Sunday, Nov. 1, at 18 designated early-voting sites around Queens.

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