Voters who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day next month can now cast their ballots days in advance at one of 10 locations throughout Suffolk County.
Earlier this year, New York State joined 37 other states and Washington, D.C., in allowing early voting as a way to increase voter turnout and flexibility. In Suffolk County, early voting will be available for all registered voters in the county for nine days — from Saturday, October 26, to Sunday, November 3.
Not only are voters given more time to vote but also more locations. For early voting, there are 10 polling places open within the county for eligible voters to use. They are located in the towns of East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island, Riverhead, Brookhaven, Islip, Huntington, Smithtown, Babylon and Southold.
Local voters can head either to Windmill Village in East Hampton, at 219 Accabonac Road; to Stony Brook Southampton’s campus gymnasium at 70 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton; or to the Shelter Island Youth Recreational Center, 1 Bateman Road, Shelter Island.
The Suffolk County Board of Elections previously used physical books, in which voters’ names were handwritten, which forced those listed voters to use a specific polling place. But the board recently implemented an electronic poll book to keep the names of all eligible voters in the county in a digital system for use at various sites.
The times for early voting are the same for each site but vary by the day. October 26 and 27 is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; October 28, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; October 29, noon to 8 p.m.; October 30 and 31, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; November 1, noon to 8 p.m.; and November 2 and 3, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The League of Women Voters, a national advocacy group that promotes voter participation, has pushed for years to get early voting implemented in New York, a state with historically low voter turnout numbers.
“Democracy is certainly not a spectator sport, and we want as many eligible voters out there to vote. And, unfortunately, New York State has a rather poor voting record, in terms of registered voters actually getting out to the ballot box on election day. We have one of the worst records in the country,” said Barbara McClancy, chair of the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons voter services committee.
Absentee ballots are still available for those who cannot vote in person on any of the given days. Eligible voters can apply for an absentee ballot through the county Board of Elections website or at a local library. The postmark deadline is October 29.
Election Day is November 5, and regular polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. that day.