Polling station changes made after Hurricane Sandy, the affidavit ballot system installed for the displaced, technical problems and huge lines added up to confusion and frustration for some voters. Still, most New Yorkers soldiered on. Check out these Election Day scenes from city polling stations:
BRONX – Wilfredo Reyes, a custodian at the P.S. 69 Journey Prep School spent the morning directing baffled voters who came to the school, which was originally set to be a polling site.
Reyes was concerned about senior voters who came to P.S. 69 and said he wished there were buses that could take them over to the new polling location at Archimedes Academy for Math, Science and Technology Applications on White Plains Road. After finding the site was closed, several of the older voters went back home, he said.
“A lot of elderly people came here and they can barely walk. They’re going to lose the vote that way,” Reyes said.
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– Elly Yu
MANHATTAN – Zinnia Alvarado, 34, turned up to vote at 1833 Amsterdam in Washington Heights at 8:30 a.m. only to be told both machines were broken.
“Everyone is freaking out,” she said. “We’re afraid it’s going to be another stolen election.”
According to Alvarado, the poll site coordinator was giving people two choices: fill out an affidavit vote, which would not be counted on Election Day; or head downtown to the the Board of Election’s facilities at 200 Varick St. or 450 W. 33rd St. to have the ballot immediately counted.
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– Jordan Davidson and Catherine Featherston
Determined to Vote
BROOKLYN – Jean, an elderly Red Hook resident and former poll worker without electricity, had planned on voting at PS 15 when she and her friend Odessa Harper received letters on the eve of Election Day instructing them to head to PS 27. They made the extra half-mile trek.
“If I had to crawl, I was going to get here to vote for Obama,” said Jean, who walks with a cane and asked that her last name not be used.
She and Harper complained that other older residents were unable to vote because they were stuck inside high-story apartments in buildings with inoperable elevators.
“I don’t understand why they won’t send people to them,” Harper said. “There are volunteers climbing floors, bringing food and supplies to these people. Why can’t they go there with affidavit ballots?”
‘This Isn’t Normal’
BRONX – More than 100 people were lined up outside P.S. 46 in the Bronx waiting to vote at mid-afternoon. Some said they had been waiting in the cold for over an hour just to get through the front doors.
“It’s been like this since 11 or 12,” said Betsy Abril, 23, who came to hand out coffee. “A lot of people are saying this isn’t normal.”
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– Kathleen Culliton
Under the Crane
MANHATTAN – Voters who arrived at Unity Church on West 58th Street quickly discovered their usual polling station had been relocated, thanks to the crane that had dangled atop a high-rise under construction on 57th Street.
“It’s funny how fast the crane slipped my mind,” said Stella Grey. “Typical New York – once the emergency’s over, everything’s back to normal.”
For John Hemmer, the trek from west of Seventh Avenue to the new location on 11th Avenue at John Jay College meant an additional hardship. “It’s a long walk for me. I have emphysema, I’m 80 years old and if I don’t get there I don’t vote,” he said.
– Shannon Ayala
MANHATTAN – Anthony Zangrillo has been waiting for the return of power and heat since Sandy struck. And on Election Day, he waited some more – in line at the polls.
Zangrillo was one of dozens of students and West Village residents who stood in a two-hour-long line outside a polling site they said was plagued with inefficiency and equipment problems.
Zangrillo, 19, lives in Oceanside, Long Island, but was eligible to vote anywhere in New York under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order ensuring ballot access for those displaced by Sandy.
“It would have taken me less than five minutes to vote in Oceanside,” Zangrillo said.
He left the line, promising to return. “I can’t wait for two hours,” he said. “I have to go to class.”
– Sophia Rosenbaum
QUEENS – Residents who were assigned to go to Hillcrest High School on Highland Avenue had to vote at a new location – Thomas A. Edison High School on 84th Avenue. While the change and others were listed on the city Board of Elections website, some Jamaica voters said they felt left in the dark.
“It’s not the switch, but the lack of communication about the switch,” said Andrene Williams, who found out about the site change when she arrived at Hillcrest, which has been used as a temporary shelter for displaced storm victims.
Williams said she would have liked a phone call or email notifying her of the polling place change. “There was a very small sign. You saw it when you got to the [school] gate,” she said.
– Matt Surrusco
Door to Door
QUEENS – Rob Ward spent part of Election Day knocking on doors in Far Rockaway.
Residents at the Israel Senior Housing greeted him with surprised and grateful smiles. He didn’t bring gallons of water or toilet paper, which have been the most common offerings for residents who remain without electricity and potable water post-Sandy.
Ward brought affidavit ballots to homebound seniors.
“There was a man, 93, [who] wanted to vote so bad. When he saw me coming in there he almost cried,” said Ward, a 71-year-old poll worker in the 23rd Election District.
Sakuntala Bassoo, a 67-year-old immigrant from Guyana, also made the most of Ward’s efforts. After meticulously bubbling in her vote, Basso sealed the envelope, handed it to Ward and crossed herself.
“They ask me the most hardest question you can think of at citizenship,” said Bassoo. “What are you going to do with it? I said I’m going to vote for America.”
– Laura Lorenzetti
MANHATTAN – On a small stage in front of the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, a DJ blasted upbeat music from his laptop.
Harlem resident Valencia Mack, 57, danced to the music at the center of the plaza, despite the lack of other dancers – and despite the long lines to vote. When she took a break, she explained that Election Day was a day for celebration.
“I was dancing because I was feeling it,” Mack said. “This is history making, no matter what the outcome. It’s historic, and I’m happy that I had the opportunity to see it.”
– Maya Rajamani
MANHATTAN – Little more than a walkway separates the Jacob Riis Houses from the East River. The Con Edison power plant that failed during the hurricane is nearby. Yet on Election Day, voters lined up at the station in the Boys’ Brotherhood Republic school on Avenue D as if nothing had happened.
“It was a little difficult, but we’re tough,” Enrique Figueroa said as he stood in line to vote. “We’re New Yorkers.”
– Eric Janciewicz