Long lines over the weekend did not stop thousands from coming out this week to vote, El Diario reports.

Fernando Martínez

One line of voters circled the block between 167th and 168th streets and St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights.

This story initially appeared in El Diario.
Translated and condensed by Carlos Rodriguez.

On Monday, neither the bad weather nor the slowness of the process caused by the pandemic was able to discourage thousands of citizens from casting their ballots. Over the weekend, New Yorkers had flooded the 88 early voting centers across the Big Apple’s five boroughs to participate in the 2020 election. 

Dominican-born Carmen Evangelista, 67, rose early. Like thousands of her Washington Heights neighbors in Upper Manhattan, she turned up to the early voting poll site at Columbia University’s Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion on St. Nicholas Avenue.

By 9 a.m., Evangelista, who has lived in New York City for 47 years, was standing in a line that went around the block between 167th and 168th streets, an area informally called “Little Dominican Republic.” At 10:55, Evangelista was showing off her “I voted” sticker, proud to have fulfilled her duty.

“Over the weekend, my neighbors and relatives waited a long time to vote, but today things moved along faster. I had not seen this level of enthusiasm from our people in decades. We Hispanics are waking up, because we know that our opinion makes a difference,” she said.

On Saturday, amid growing complaints that the process was too slow and a few skirmishes that disturbed the process, New Yorkers turned up at the polls massively under rigorous sanitary rules aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic, which slows voting down.

For his part, Puerto Rican-born Enrique Molina, 66, said it would be “too disdainful” if people who have the chance to participate in this election stayed home to avoid standing in a line that may move slower than usual.

“This happens only once every four years. I am sure that our Latino vote will be felt this year. We may not see the difference it makes in the country, but our grandchildren will. I tried to vote on Saturday but did not make it in. Today things went much faster, and it will be the same in the coming days,” Molina estimated.

Some 190,000 people flooded early voting poll sites over the weekend, according to unofficial figures from the city’s board of elections. Early voting will continue until Sunday, Nov. 1.

“We saw people really own their democracy […]. We saw the people come out in numbers we’ve never seen before […]. Almost 200,000 New Yorkers voted in early voting on Saturday and Sunday. Unbelievable,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Sources of the New York City Board of Elections (BOENYC) told El Diario that first-day difficulties were to be expected and that the process would become more efficient by Monday.

The board posted examples on Twitter of voters who were able to cast their ballots in less than 50 minutes on Monday at poll sites in Queens and The Bronx. Three- to five-hour delays had been seen there at the beginning of the early voting process.

Dominican-born Dominga Martínez, who lives in Washington Heights, shared that she was able to vote “quickly,” unlike friends who voted at the poll site set up at Columbia University in Upper Manhattan days before.

“They told me that some people waited up to six hours. In my case, I was out in less than an hour. We have to participate if we want to make demands to the authorities. Especially us immigrants,” said the 48-year resident.

Similarly, Martha Salamanca, 45, a Mexico native, lamented that she will have to wait until the weekend to vote because she does not have time to go to exercise her right.

“At my job, they only give me only one hour. But even if I have to sleep here, I will do it. As a Mexican, it would be unforgivable to turn my back on this opportunity to voice my opinion,” said the insurance vendor, who tried unsuccessfully to cast her ballot during her lunch break.