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Long IslandPolitics

LI residents turn out by the thousands, wait for hours to cast early votes

Long Islanders cast their ballots at voting stations in Elmont, Garden City and Nesconset on Monday.  Credit: Chris Ware, Kendall Rodriguez and James Carbone

This story was reported by Rachelle Blidner, Robert Brodsky, James Carbone and Kendall C. Rodriguez. It was written by Brodsky.

Nearly 40,000 Long Islanders endured chilly temperatures, drizzling rain and hourslong lines Monday to cast their ballots for president on the first weekday of early voting on Long Island.

Nassau and Suffolk County residents lined up in the dark Monday morning, armed with folding chairs, books and hot coffee, up to three hours before more than two dozen early voting locations opened their doors, elections officials said.

"The process is working, but Long Islanders seem to want to camp out two or three hours ahead of time," said Suffolk Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Nick LaLota. "This is like Black Friday to a lot of people. That’s fine. We welcome the business."

In total, 15,492 Suffolk residents cast ballots at the county's 12 early voting sites Monday — a nearly 900% increase from the third day of early voting in 2019 and nearly exceeding the more than 20,000 ballots cast in-person in the county over the entire weekend, LaLota said.

The Suffolk Board of Elections, LaLota said, processed an early voter every 1.94 seconds Monday until polls closed at 3 p.m.

During Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 35,811 residents have cast ballots in Suffolk, including 20,086 registered Democrats, 7,333 Republicans and 8,392 not affiliated with either major political party, officials said.

Business was equally brisk Monday in Nassau where 24,301 residents cast their ballots at the county's 15 early voting sites — exceeding the total votes cast on Saturday or Sunday, said Nassau Democratic Elections Commissioner Jim Scheuerman.

A total of 51.4% of the votes cast Monday were by registered Democrats, 27.2% by Republicans and 21.4% came from voters not affiliated with either party, records show. During the past three days, 59,634 Nassau voters have cast ballots.

"This speaks to the amount of excitement people feel about this election," said Scheuerman, who said people were on line at 7:15 a.m. Monday even as polling sites did not open till 10 a.m.

Darlene Smith of Centereach waited nearly two hours Monday to cast her ballot at Nesconset Elementary School.

"I wanted to guarantee that I could vote in case the lines next Tuesday [Election Day] are too long," Smith said.

Khawer Mahood of Elmont cast his first-ever ballot for president since emigrating to the United States from Pakistan.

"Every citizen should vote so that democracy can run," said Mahmood as he voted at the Elmont Public Library.

New York adopted early voting in 2019 and the nine-day stretch this year is the first opportunity for New Yorkers to cast early votes in a presidential election.

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