The scene at the Williston Post No. 144 American Legion...

The scene at the Williston Post No. 144 American Legion in Williston Park Saturday was typical of polling places across Long Island as early voting began in the New York primary. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Heavy rain across Long Island on Saturday served as a dreary backdrop to a quiet start to early voting for New York's presidential primary election.

While November’s election already appears set as a rematch of 2020 — with President Joe Biden challenged by former President Donald Trump — New York’s primary is proceeding as scheduled.

Long Island voters showed little eagerness to participate, with polling sites reporting scattered voters throughout the day. A total of 476 voters cast ballots Saturday in Nassau County — 281 Democrats and 195 Republicans, according to the Nassau County Board of Elections. In Suffolk, 432 voters cast ballots — 224 Democrats and 208 Republicans, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. 

Early voting runs for eight days before the official primary date of April 2. Voting sites reopen Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in both counties. 

Ed Mellina and his wife, Nancy, cast ballots in Garden...

Ed Mellina and his wife, Nancy, cast ballots in Garden City. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Gerald King’s winding path to an early voting site ended at the North Babylon Fire Department. The Lindenhurst resident said he drove to a local middle school first, only to realize that his typical polling location wasn’t a site for early voting.

He went to a nearby library where staff directed him to the fire department, one of 20 early voting sites in Suffolk County.

“I’m kind of interested in this stuff,” King, 85, said of his decision to vote.

While he considers himself more of an independent, he said he was voting in the Democratic primary for Biden.

“I don’t think anybody’s too happy with either of the candidates,” he said. “But I certainly can’t stand Trump.”

Trump became the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party earlier this month after wins in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state as he surpassed the 1,215-delegate threshold, The Associated Press reported. He can formally accept the nomination at the Republican National Convention in July.

Lindenhurst resident Rosalie Fletchall, 70, was just the third voter at the North Babylon Fire Department about 2½ hours into the day. She had her choice of 15 voting booths lined up across two rows in the spacious room.

“As an American citizen, I wanted to make sure that I was here,” she said. “I love President Biden and I wanted to be out here and I wanted to do my duty.”

In Nassau County, a poll worker at the Williston Post No. 144 American Legion in Williston Park said just one voter went to the site about an hour after polls opened at 9 a.m. The site remained quiet later in the morning.

A similar scene played out at St. Paul’s Recreation Center in Garden City. Poll workers there intermittently looked out the door to the gymnasium where ballots could be cast.

Ed Mellina, 51, of Garden City, and his wife, Nancy, said they were the first two ballots of the day at the Garden City site.

The poll workers clapped when the two walked in, he said.

He added that he always votes in primaries but declined to specify for whom Saturday. 

Registered Democrats and Republicans can cast a ballot over the eight-day period.

Poll workers at Michael J. Tully Park in New Hyde Park said 13 total votes were cast at the site by 1 p.m.

There, Daniel Vanvelsor, 58, of Garden City Park, said he is a registered Democrat but "almost always vote Republican." He said he voted for Dean Phillips, who dropped out of the race in early March, "because I don’t like Biden."

At Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville, Tom Fauls, 58, of Bellport was the 19th voter to cast a ballot shortly after 2 p.m. A registered Republican, Fauls characterized his ballot as a “protest vote.”

“I understand who my party’s nominee is going to be,” he said. “I’m not happy about it. I’m going to come out and make my voice heard anyway.”

At the North Amityville Fire Department in Suffolk, poll workers were still waiting for their first voter at around 10 a.m. A poll machine displayed the number "3" for ballots cast — each by a poll worker.

Paulette LaBorne, a Suffolk County Board of Elections official, said they were prepared just as they would for any other election. But with the race essentially already settled, she said they don’t expect a big turnout.

“You really never know,” she said. “Presidential years are always unique.”

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