They came. They saw. They voted early.
Thousands of New Yorkers assembled long lines at 88 sites across the five boroughs on Saturday to cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election on the first day of early voting.
Lines ran for blocks in many places on Oct. 24 as voters of ages, colors and creeds gathered to make their voices heard in the all-important election between the Republican incumbent ticket of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence against the Democratic duo of former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris.
There are plenty of other races across the city for Congress, Assembly and state Senate, including the heated 11th Congressional District race between incumbent Democratic Congressman Max Rose and his challenger, Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, for the seat covering southwestern Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Not long after polls closed at 4 pm Saturday, the city’s Board of Elections announced that 93,830 New Yorkers had voted that day — far exceeding the 60,110 early voters during the entire 2019 fall election cycle, in which few competitive races were on the ballot.
On average, each early voting site on Oct. 24 had about 1,066 voters show up between 10 am and 4 pm — or about 178 voters per hour of operation.
Brooklyn had the most early voters in the city on Saturday, with 29,411, followed by Manhattan with 19,877; Queens with 19,223; the Bronx with 14,928; and Staten Island with 10,391.
Saturday marked the first time New Yorkers got a chance to vote early in a presidential election. They join the more than 50 million Americans who have already cast votes in the race in other states where early voting is available.
Manhattan early voting sites were anything but a “ghost town” on Saturday. At the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, residents of the neighborhood as well as Little Italy and Greenwich Village gathered on a line that snaked four blocks around the house of worship to cast their ballots.
Voters began gathering at the entrance as early as 7 am Saturday morning. The line moved after the polls opened, and voters relished the opportunity to finally make their voice heard in the election.
There were plenty of lines to get into polling sites across Brooklyn, including at Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. Voters lined up for more than a block to get into the arena and cast their ballots as the Brooklyn United Marching Band treated those in queue to an impromptu performance.
From downtown to Bay Ridge to Cypress Hills, the voters came in droves — waiting it out for the opportunity to make their voices heard.
“This is the most important election of my lifetime,” said one voter at Barclays, Jacob Silver.
Another voter, James Lawson, put the importance of the election bluntly: “Our future is at stake here.”
“This election is critical for everything from the environment to schooling,” Lawson said. “We must right the ship.”
Harriett Smith, meanwhile, expressed optimism in the Biden campaign.
“I believe Biden will win, there is power in voting,” Smith said. “Look at this turnout here and across the city.”
— Jo Anne Simon (@JoAnneSimonBK52) October 24, 2020
— Rafael L Espinal Jr. (@RLEspinal) October 24, 2020
— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) October 24, 2020
— Justin Allen👻🎃🍂🍁 (@JAllen_NY) October 24, 2020
Queens also saw huge turnout at their early polling places on the first day of early voting. The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria and Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens had hundreds of people waiting throughout the morning to cast their ballots.
The long lines could also be seen at polling places in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March and April.
More of the same could be seen in the Bronx, where voters came out in droves to make their voices heard in the 2020 election.
Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell.
This story first appeared on AMNY.com.