Brooklyn casts more early votes than any other borough

Line outside voting booth in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)
The long queue at the Barclays Center on the first day of early voting, Oct. 24.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Brooklynites cast the most ballots during early voting for the presidential election, besting all four other boroughs with a total of 373,270 voters checking in at polling sites, according to the city’s Board of Elections.

BOE’s preliminary figures show that Kings County accounted for more than a third of all early votes in the city, which came in a total of 1,119,056 by Sunday evening.

One local state legislator, whose bill introduced early voting to the state in January, said that these numbers proved that making voting easier will bring out more more people to exercise their democratic rights. 

“What these past nine days have shown is that when you make voting easier and more accessible, voters respond with great enthusiasm,” said state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D–Crown Heights).

The number of early voters in Brooklyn was almost half of all votes cast in the borough during the the last presidential election, with this year’s count marking 46 percent of the 805,605 votes tallied in 2016

Officials pitched early voting as a way to avoid long lines on Election Day come Nov. 3, but citizens had to brave hours-long waiting times in the wet cold weather to do their civic duty during the 10-day early bird period.

An additional motivator for many to vote early might have been Brooklyn’s mail-in ballot snafu earlier in the month, when Board sent out faulty absentee ballot envelopes with mismatched addresses to residents around the borough. The agency blamed its upstate GOP-friendly printing contractor Phoenix Graphics for the mess and tasked the company with re-sending corrected ballot packages. 

The troubles last week were due to BOE setting up a mere 88 polling sites for Gotham’s five million registered voters, as well as an unequal distribution of voters per location, a lack of ballot scanners at some spots, and inconsistent guidance for poll workers, voters, and volunteers, according to Myrie, who vowed to work to improve the system when lawmakers return to Albany. 

“In the next Legislative session, I plan to review these and all other aspects of our election administration to ensure that New York voters receive the world-class democracy they deserve,” Myrie said. 

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio — who took his motorcade from Gracie Mansion and across the East River to cast his vote in his home borough — stood on line for more than three hours in Park Slope and blasted city election gurus for failing to move the crowds along more quickly or provide more sites. 

“People are making very clear how much they want to vote, and they’re waiting hours and hours. That’s not acceptable,” Hizzoner said during an appearance on NY1 while he waited at the Park Slope Armory. “Every site, the hours should be expanded immediately, especially for this weekend. More staff, more machines — whatever it takes.”

In response to the widespread criticism, the Board expanded poll hours for the final three days over the weekend.

While Brooklynites cast the most early votes in absolute numbers — unsurprisingly given it is also the most populous borough at almost 2.6 million residents — it only had the third-highest rate of voters when compared to overall population at 14.6 percent.

Staten Island — the least populous borough — had the highest relative turnout at 21.9 percent followed by Manhattan at 14.65 percent.

Like the city overall, Brooklyn predominantly votes blue and will likely go for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over Republican President Donald Trump. 

However, the borough has two competitive races to watch along its southern belt where freshmen Democratic incumbents have serious Republican challengers, including Representative Max Rose (D–Bay Ridge) who’s facing off against Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R–Bay Ridge), and state Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D–Bay Ridge, Marine Park) who is fighting to hold on against former nightclub owner Vito Bruno.