BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Saturday marks the first day of early voting for the 2020 election across New York State. A number of community organizers across Erie and Niagara Counties spent Friday getting ready for the big day.

In Buffalo, a group is preparing for a “Unity Vote” car parade. Dewitt Lee, promotions director for WUFO, says the group will meet in Martin Luther King Jr. Park between 10:30 and 11:30 Saturday morning, and march to St. Columba-Brigid Church, where they will vote. The church is one of 37 early voting sites across Erie County.

“We are going to mobilize this community. You have no excuses,” said Deacon Jerome Wright of Elim Christian Fellowship. “Nobody in this community has any excuse for not getting out to vote during this early period.

In Erie County, 54,386 absentee ballots had already been returned to the board of elections as of late Friday morning.

Meanwhile, in Niagara County, several non-profits in Niagara Falls are teaming up with Discover Niagara to offer a free shuttle to St. John de LaSalle Church, which is one of two early voting sites in the county.

The shuttle will pick voters up from several different locations over the course of the early voting period, which runs through November 1st. On the first day, people will be able to get a ride to and from the Beloved Community Center.

“When we talk about accessibility, we have a large senior population in the downtown area,” said Brian Archie of Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative. “The buses do not run specifically on weekends to get everyone safely out here.”

“What we’re hoping to do here is show the desire that people have to do early voting,” added Leslie Nickerson, executive director of Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope. “Hopefully for the next election, we’ll be able to get more sites from the county.”

Early voting hours and locations by county:

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.