Tuesday was an Election Day like no other in New York City. The stakes were high, particularly in state races, but the entire day was clouded by Hurricane Sandy, which just one week earlier had wreaked havoc on the city, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Problems at Polling Sites
Sandy knocked many polling sites out of commission, sending the entire process of voting into disarray. As early as Sunday morning, the City Board of Elections announced the relocation of 60 polling sites, and by Monday night around 6 p.m., the number had grown to 80, just 12 hours before polls would open at 6 a.m. on Election Day.
Also on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an signed an executive order allowing affidavit ballot voting. Voters that were displaced as a result of Sandy could go to any polling place, sign an affidavit and vote there.
Affidavit voting, meant to increase access and convenience, came with its own set of complications.
City Limits reported that some people voting by affidavit had not been displaced by Sandy. They also reported that some polling sites ran out of affidavit ballots and never received more, even when requested.
The changed poll sites also led to some chaos. The 27 damaged polling stations in Queens were condensed into just six new sites. For voters in the Rockaways, that meant miles-long trips with unreliable bus routes and dozens of closed roads, according to City Limits. And these voters are living without power and heat.
“They tell us to call, they tell us to go on a website, but we can’t!” said one woman to City Limits.
During its reporting from Coney Island and Brighton Beach yesterday, MetroFocus spoke with Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny who reported on delayed openings at the relocated poll sites and issues with voters addresses not appearing on voter lists.
“This is a crisis created by the Board of Elections,” said Brook-Krasny.
Representatives from the Board of Elections had at least attempted to spread some information about new polling sites on Sunday. In Coney Island, Flavia Ades and her daughter Hannah Ades, 16, traveled from the Upper East Side to volunteer at one of the city’s 14 food and water distribution sites on Surf Avenue. They were assigned the task of handing out pieces of paper that listed polling stations that had been relocated to another address. It was a small task, but a meaningful one for Flavia Ades.
“I come from Argentina and grew up in a dictatorship when voting wasn’t possible,” she said. “I’m handing this out and it’s good to see how eager people are to go vote.”
“If you have the patience, here is voting information about where to vote,” the mother and daughter said with a hint of apology to the many people who were there to gather life-sustaining food and water.
One woman who took the list replied, “If I had to, I would fly to vote for Obama.”
Whether those sites stayed the same from Sunday to Tuesday is unclear.
NY Race Results
Waging an uphill battle, New York state Democrats fought hard against Republicans and are projected to have clinched control of the state Senate.
-Kirsten Gillibrand won re-election to the U.S. Senate over challenger Wendy Long.
-In the 11th Congressional District, Republican Staten Island Representative Michael Grimm triumphed over a strong challenger, Democrat Mark Murphy.
-Grace Meng won the 6th Congressional District’s seat in Queens, becoming the city’s first Asian-American Congresswoman.
-Brooklyn State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the subject of a sexual harrasment probe, handily won re-election.
-Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries heads to Washington after winning the 8th Congressional District House seat.
Christina Knight contributed reporting.