Two major sports arenas in New York City will serve as polling sites for the general election in November, providing a socially distanced way for residents to vote in person. The city’s Board of Elections announced that Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center will both be Early Voting and Election Day poll sites, the result of a deal made between players of the National Basketball Association and the league to resume playoffs after teams refused to play following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The agreement involved several social justice initiatives, including the use of NBA arenas across the country as voting locations for the upcoming election.
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Both venues will serve as the largest voting sites in their respective boroughs, with Madison Square Garden open to over 60,000 eligible voters. Early voting in New York will run from October 24 through November 1; on Election Day, November 3, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Council Member Laurie Cumbo called the Barclays Center an “ideal” place for early voting because of its central location in the borough and proximity to multiple public transportation options. The venue’s plaza also served as a meeting point for thousands of Black Lives Matter demonstrators earlier this summer following the police killing of George Floyd.
“It is so critical that in this particular time we not only come here to protest and rally but we come here to exercise our right to vote,” Cumbo said during a press conference on Tuesday.
The BOE and the Garden first announced the polling site last Friday, with other NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, and Milwaukee Bucks, committing their arenas as voting sites on the same day following negotiations with the players and their union.
“Madison Square Garden holds a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers, and we are proud to be working with them in ensuring voters can cast their ballots in a safe, spacious and familiar environment,” BOE executive director Michael J. Ryan said in a press release on Friday. “In an election where enthusiasm is at a fever pitch, we recognize the significance of having a venue like MSG on our side to make the process not only more convenient but really give voters the sense they are part of something exciting and historic.”
According to BOE, all poll sites throughout the city will follow public health guidelines and staff will install floor markers, sanitize all voting equipment, and require face coverings. New York City voters can visit https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search to find their assigned early voting and general election poll site. Only voters assigned to the Barclays or the Garden will be able to cast their ballots at those sites.