Adi Talwar

The poll site at P.S. 65 in Staten Island.

More than 1.1 million city residents had already cast their ballots in the 2020 election prior to Nov. 3, thanks to early voting that kicked off Oct. 24.

But crowds were still turning up to vote on Tuesday, too: lines were reported at several poll sites in Brooklyn and Staten Island the early morning, giving way to a steady stream of voters moving quickly in and out by the afternoon. Between early voting and 5 p.m. on Election Day, 2,161,043 people had voted across the boroughs, the city’s Board of Elections said on Twitter.

Among them were New Yorkers marking new experiences: casting ballots for the very first time, voting for a different party than they did previously or newly volunteering at the polls.

“Everything was very organized,” said Alquimides Valencia, who cast his first ballot at P.S. 19 on Staten Island Tuesday morning. He decided to vote this year after volunteers from a local campaign knocked on his door this election season to urge him to vote.

Laura, who has lived on Staten Island for eight years and is originally from Puerto Rico, also voted for the first time Tuesday.

“Every single vote is a voice, and we need more voices,” she said.

Left: Ilda Davis and first time voter Laura at P.S. 20. Right: Shabelle Mendoza and first time voter Alquimides Valencia at P.S. 19. (Credit: Daniel Parra)

Other residents said that while they’ve voted in prior elections, they’re doing so this year after an ideological shift.

DilHara P. is a former Democrat who voted twice for Obama, and even helped out on Democratic Congressman Max Rose’s first campaign in 2018. But she changed her party line three months ago, saying she felt Democrats were “going towards Communism,” and were blaming the pandemic on President Donald Trump when it is a world-wide issue.

“I voted for Trump because I see something different in him and I am standing with this president,” the 37-year-old said as she voted at P.S. 16 in the St. George area of Staten Island.

For others, it was the opposite: one nameless passerby at the same poll site told City Limits he was a former Trump voter but decided to vote for former U.S. Vice President Biden this year because he was tired of Trump insulting women, among others.

“He is an embarrassment,” the newly Democratic voter said.

Others were challenging their 2020 anxieties into action this year. Kathleen Fox served as a poll worker for the first time on Tuesday at Christ Church in Bay Ridge. She was inspired to volunteer this year because of the threat that COVID-19 poses to older New Yorkers, who tend to make up a large share of poll workers.

“It’s an important election,” she said. “I wanted to do something more than what I was doing before.”

The poll site at Richmond Terrace Community Center at NYCHA’s Richmond Houses in Staten Island. (Credit: Sadef Kully)

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