New Yorkers have their first-ever chance to vote early in the general election, beginning next weekend.

Polls will be open for 10 days before the Nov. 5 election — from
Saturday, Oct. 26 and continuing through Sunday, Nov. 3.

Early voting in Riverhead will take place at the Riverhead Senior Center on Shade Tree Lane in Aquebogue.

The polls will be open during different hours on different days to provide early voting opportunities convenient for people with varying schedules, Suffolk officials said.

Early voting in Suffolk will take place on the following dates and times:

Saturday, Oct. 26: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 27: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 28: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 29: 12 noon to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 30: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 31: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 1: 12 noon to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 3: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

New York’s early voting is the result of state legislation enacted this year that requires election officials to provide early voting opportunities prior to Election Day. The law requires early voting days to include two weekends and to conclude two days prior to Election Day.

Prior to this year, New York had been one of only 12 states without early voting.

“For too long, people have been disenfranchised by limiting voting to one day per year. The more opportunity people have to participate the more they will,” Suffolk County Legislature presiding officer DuWAyne Gregory said.

“Allowing early voting and extending the number of days and times to vote, will address low voter turnout and bring more people into the process,” he said.

Voter turnout is lowest years when elections are purely local: in New York, odd-numbered years, when town and county offices are filled.

In Riverhead, voter turnout in local election years has consistently been well below 50 percent of registered voters. Turnout declined to a record low of 34 percent in 2015, but increased to 41.3 percent in 2017.

Riverhead Town voter turnout in local elections is actually better than turnout in other Suffolk towns. The five East End towns have consistently had better voter turnout in local election years than the five western towns, where voter turnout in local elections has typically been about 30 percent or less of registered voters.

In contrast, Suffolk voter turnout in presidential election years is much higher. For example turnout in Suffolk was over 70 percent of registered voters in 2016, over 65 percent in 2012 and over 75 percent in 2008.

Turnout in even-numbered years without a presidential election — when New York voters elect Congressional representatives, state legislators and governors — is typically higher than in local election years, but lower than the numbers posted during presidential election years. Since 2002, these elections usually draw more than 40 percent but less than 50 percent of registered voters to the polls, according to Suffolk County Board of Elections data.

In New York, only 62.5 percent of voting age citizens were registered to vote in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Registered voters who who anticipate being absent from the county on Election Day or whose illness or disability prevents them from getting to the polls can vote by absentee ballot. (Download an application for an absentee ballot.)

This story is free to read thanks in part to the generous support of readers like you. Keep local news free. Become a member today.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.