Earlier this afternoon, “a group of irate Orthodox community leaders” held a conference call to protest poll site changes implemented in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens. In the call, local Jewish leaders alleged their new voting location was designed to dampen turnout in their ideologically conservative community as it struggles to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.
“We’re a group of people who really, really suffered tremendously,” Richard Altabe, a board member of the Far Rockaway Jewish Alliance, said. “Or voting rights are about to be taken away from us. It’s going to be difficult enough to get people to vote….Our ability to speak and have our voices heard is going to be squashed by circumstances. I’m really, really horrified.”
During a press conference updating New Yorkers on the latest developments in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg also addressed arrangements made for Election Day this Tuesday. As at least 60 polling sites are without electricity or are otherwise compromised by storm damage, a number of last-minute decisions have been implemented by the Board of Elections. Needless to say, Mr. Bloomberg did not sound confident.
“The Board of Elections tells us that about 143,000 voters in all five boroughs will be assigned to poll sites different from their usual site,” he explained. “Over the next day, it’s going to be critical that the Board of Elections communicates this new information to their poll workers. Unfortunately, as you know, the Board has had a history of not opening all poll sites on time.”
President Barack Obama, who had been campaigning in Florida as Hurricane Sandy began to batter states in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, has canceled further events in the Sunshine State in order to return to Washington, according to a dispatch sent out by the White House this morning.
“Due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington, DC area, the President will not attend today’s campaign event in Orlando, Florida,” Jay Carney, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, announced. “The President will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy.”
On the steps of City Hall earlier this afternoon, council members and good-government advocates gathered to “sound the alarm” over problems that occurred during the September 13 primary elections, and urged both the Board of Elections and legislative bodies to act promptly to rectify the situation before November’s presidential election, when far more people are set to vote.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, who tweeted up a storm of frustration last Election Day and who led today’s event, urged everyone to pay particular attention to the tiny font size used on the ballots, which he said was significantly smaller than in past elections and created substantial problems for seniors unable to read the letters. To prove his point, he pointed to a poster that illustrated the smallness of the font. His colleague, Councilman Vinnie Gentile, channeled Jimmy McMillan, exclaiming, “The font is too damn small!”
Voters head to the polls tomorrow to decide the Democratic and Republican nominees in key federal races across the state, and for those races in heavily Democratic districts, tomorrow’s election will effectively be coronations. For hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, our next congressional representatives will be determined Tuesday night.
My colleague David Freedlander has already weighed in with some thoughts, which you are more than encouraged to do as well by emailing him at dfreedlander [@] observer.com.
Here’s some of what I’m watching:
your two cents
Tomorrow is Election Day! For Congress and the U.S. Senate primaries at least. So at long last we all get to find out if all of these months of breathlessly following FEC filings and endorsement press releases amount to anything, or if those of us who follow politics are really as wrapped in our myopia as we imagine ourselves to be (we are guessing that regardless of the outcome, the answer to that question is yes.)
Anyway, what will you be looking for tomorrow when the results come trickling in? Is there a certain candidate that needs to clear a threshold in order to remain legitimate? A challenger that will show herself to be a rising star if she does well? Will endorsements matter? Incumbency? The economy?
Let us know what you will be looking for by shooting an email at dfreedlander [@] observer.com. If you promise to refrain from excessive spin, anonymous and semi-anonymous submissions are welcome.
Here are some of our thoughts:
For Republican voters in New York, it’s Election Day today and you have the choice of voting for Mitt Romney for president, or for one of the three other names on the ballot, two of whom are still technically vying for the nomination.
And it’s sentences like the above that has fueled former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s latest beef.
“You guys in the press have been beating down any opposition to Romney for months. You started four or five months ago telling us, ‘Romney’s going to win. Romney’s going to win,’ and trying to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he declared on Inside City Hall last night. “That’s wrong!”
Imagine you are a citizen of the City of New York, and you have, you believe, been called to a career in public service. You have begun raising money and reaching out to friends, and maybe hired a consultant or a pollster.
It is now the second week of February and due to some colossal inertia in Albany, if you were this citizen who dreamed of service in the Legislature, you would likely not know a) which district you live in b) whether or not that district has a sitting lawmaker and c) when, precisely, election day is.
In other words, New York is about to embark on an election season as chaotic and unpredictable as any in memory.
“Excuse me! It’s the twilight zone!” screamed Doug Muzzio, a professor of public policy at Baruch College, when asked to give his assessment of the state of play. “The craven self-interest and disregard for even the rough-and-tumble of democracy by these people—they don’t get it at all. They want the game fixed and they are the fixers!”
He paused for a moment to catch his breath, or to keep his aorta from exploding into the telephone.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE THESE PEOPLE DOING!”