Reports of chaotic situations at the polls around New York City this Election Day are mounting. The areas on the southwestern tip of Brooklyn that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy have experienced issues, but we’re also hearing about problems in neighborhoods that weren’t heavily impacted by the storm including Flatbush, Park Slope and parts of Manhattan. Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has been touring the polling sites in the East Flatbush and Flatbush portions of his district described the situation as “complete disorganization” and had harsh words for the city Board of Elections. He also suggested the federal or city government may need to take action against the BOE to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
“I think on a non-Sandy day they have problems doing a good election,” Mr. Williams said of the BOE. “Combine that with Sandy and they’re completely unorganized. They’ve had four years to plan this. Their only job is to plan elections and they can’t get it right. And you should have conditional plans, you should have backup plans, you should have contingency plans. Where are those plans? This is getting worse and worse.”
As New Yorkers crowd into long lines, waiting for the right to vote at polling sites that may or may not have functional machines to tally the votes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg held another press conference to update the city on its recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. While addressing the storm, Mr. Bloomberg, who has criticized the local Board of Elections in the past, did not hold back in his frustration with the issues at the polls today.
“People all around the world would like to have our freedoms and to keep them and extend them, we have to exercise them. I know many people, including myself, are encountering lines at the polls. Be patient, it’s worth the wait,” he said. “From the reports that we’ve gotten, the Board of Elections has run into problems, including late delivery of machines to some sites and late openings. Also, this morning, we learned the Board failed to secure enough fuel for generators at least one poll site; we became aware of it and the Department of Education did deliver fuel to that polling site….If these were the only problems the Board of Elections encountered today, we should consider ourselves very lucky. But, unfortunately, based on its history, that is not likely to be the case.”
Journeys With Joe
Vice President Joe Biden traveled to his home state of Delaware to vote for himself today. After he emerged from the voting booth, reporters asked the vice president if he thought it would be his final time casting a ballot for himself.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mr. Biden said with a grin.
Dude Wheres My Ballot?
The Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn was among the hardest-hit areas by Hurricane Sandy last week and the storm’s impact is being felt as voters head to the polls today. As a result of the hurricane damage, many of Coney Island’s poll sites were changed, but according to reports on the scene, the Election Day chaos in the neighborhood sounds far worse than the planned changes.
“PS 370, which is supposed to be the ‘super’ Coney Isand poll site, there are areas where they don’t have the books to sign in, so people have to vote via affidavit,” one operative on the ground told Politicker. “Every poll site got up late. They don’t even have real police officers here, they have the recruits, police academy. They have no clue what to do, they’ve never done it before. Every site got off late because police academy got off late to open up. One of the new sites….it’s supposed to be a site, but the machines aren’t there.”
This account was echoed by other reports in Coney Island, and similar tales of voting issues in the Rockaways, which was also devastated by the hurricane.
Tomorrow’s electoral process just got a little bit easier for people displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Governor Andrew Cuomo acquiesced to pressure from several elected officials and good government groups this evening and signed an executive order allowing anyone registered in a federally-declared disaster area to vote by affidavit ballot or choose from one of several other alternatives.