Voting Early On Shelter Island? You Need A Boat

Aug 21, 2020

Suffolk County will allow voters to begin casting ballots early. Some polls will be open on October 24 — 10 days before Election Day. But as of now, Shelter Island voters will need a boat to get a ballot box.

Lawmakers on eastern Long Island said an early voting site was eliminated from Shelter Island, a town detached from the mainland between Long Island’s twin forks. Each of Suffolk County’s nine other towns have an early voting site.

“You would literally have to get on a boat and either travel to Southampton or East Hampton or Southold town to be able to do early voting. This is just another form of another attempt to really repress turnout,” said state Assemblyman Fred Thiele.

Thiele is an Independent who caucuses with Democrats. He called it another attempt to undercut voters before the 2020 presidential election.

Thiele wants the Suffolk County Board of Elections to reinstate the site for the fewer than 2,000 mostly older voters who live there. He said it will give them peace of mind amid the pandemic.

“People would would view it as safer is an option that every resident of New York State should have, and Shelter Island simply by virtue of its geography shouldn't be denied that right,” Thiele said.

Shelter Island had traditionally voted for conservative candidates, but in recent years voted Democratic — for Hilary Clinton in 2016 and former President Barack Obama twice.