Hundreds of people — from a s far away as Commack —turned out to the Riverhead early voting site first thing this morning on the first day of early voting in New York State. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The first voters in line got to the Riverhead polling place at 6:30 a.m.

By 9:30, the line wrapped all around the building and into the parking lot.

By the time the doors of the Riverhad Senior and Human Resource Center opened at 10 o’clock, the line snaked from Shade Tree Lane into and through the length of the parking lot.

Hundreds of people descended on the early voting polling place in Riverhead this morning, eager to cast their votes. They came from all over Suffolk County.

“I thought it would be less crowded here,” said one young man from Commack, waiting to cast his third-ever vote in a presidential election. Others came from Medford, Mount Sinai and Shoreham.

No one expected such a crowd in Riverhead — including the town police.

“This is unbelievable,” said an officer, one of four or five on duty to make sure traffic and people continued to flow safely.

The parking lot filled up quickly and vehicles lined both sides of Shade Tree Lane.

Sharon and Sandra, of Riverhead, sisters, with their sons, Nicholas and Josh, were first in line in Riverhead this morning. They arrived at 6:30 a.m.

“We wanted to make sure our votes count,” Sharon said.

A volunteer with the organization Common Cause was at the polling place, carrying a sign that read “Election Protection” with the hotline number to call if there’s a problem at a polling place (1-866-OUR-VOTE). She wore a matching T-shirt and face mask with the same messaging.

There were no problems reported as voting got underway this morning — except for a squabble over the last available parking space in the parking lot outside the senior center.

Voters Saturday morning were in good spirits and eager to cast their votes — even if it meant waiting in line for hours to do so.

Update: Volume at the Riverhead polling place remained high throughout the day, with the line outside the building winding around the parking lot. The wait was about three hours.

Many people came prepared for a long wait, bringing chairs, water and snacks.

Pizza to the Polls makes a delivery to voters lined up outside the Riverhead polling place just before 3 p.m. Saturday. Photo: Courtney Blasl

Just before 3 p.m. a group called Pizza to the Polls delivered a dozen pizzas and distributed slices to voters waiting in line. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group was founded in 2016 with the mission of bringing food voters with long waits at crowded polling places.

A poll worker stood at the end of the line at 3 p.m. to advise new arrivals that the line to enter the polling place was now closed. People already in line at 3 p.m. were allowed to continue to wait and eventually vote.

There were nine voting stations and four ballot scanning machines at the Riverhead polling place.

Voters with absentee ballots do not have to wait in line. They can just drop their envelopes off inside the polling place.

Early voting continues daily for the next nine days, through Sunday, Nov. 1. The polls close Saturday at 3 p.m.

They will be open during the following hours in the days ahead:
Sunday, Oct. 25: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 26: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 27: 12 noon – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 28: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 29: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30: 12 noon – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 31: 10 a.m – 3 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 1: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Suffolk residents can vote at any one of the 12 early voting locations in the county. See prior story.

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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.