In the early morning hours as school children were being dropped off, informed citizens around Brooklyn were finding their polling site and exercising their right to vote in the New York primaries. Community centers, libraries and public schools transformed their available space and took steps to prepare for the voters as the affixed clearly labeled directional signs. Despite their due diligence, some polling locations fell short of facilitating a seamless voting experience.
In an interview with the Brooklyn Reader, Shalewa Moore of Bedstuy explains the frustration she experienced at 7 am this morning when she attempted to vote at her local polling place before heading off to work for the day.
“I came to my designated location with the proper documents and I figured it would be easy. There was confusion and a lot of polling people speaking at the same time when they couldn’t find my name on the list. Eventually they sorted it out but had I listened to their answers at first, I would have left here feeling like I was out of luck.”
Unfortunately, Shalewa’s experience rings true for quite a few NY residents as voters report broken machines, confusing instructions and uniformed personnel at polling places around the city. While it’s important to note that many of the polling places workers are volunteers, it’s evident that some of these volunteers were unprepared for incidentals.
“You can feel the tension in there. Right when you walk in or you ask a question. The volunteers are doing a good job and you can tell they are taking it seriously but… they are nervous when they encounter something unexpected and then they default to saying something that may persuade a voter to feel defeated about the entire process.” says Christopher B. of Fort Greene.
In a much more dramatic scenario, voters at the Cooper Park Houses in Greenpoint, Brooklyn were expecting their polls to open at 6 am this morning only to find out that the site wasn’t officially allowing citizens inside until two hours later. Some frustrated voters took to social media in hopes of alerting the public about the mishaps that prevented them from exercising their right.
— Rebecca Keith (@KeithRebecca) April 19, 2016
Although the voting process calls for Board of Elections representatives to handle unforeseen circumstances, it quickly became evident that there were not enough representatives to handle various polling places and their specific issues. Reps at the New York State Board of Elections could not immediately be reached for a statement, as the press office’s voicemail was full Tuesday morning.
While frustrations about the process were plentiful, there were some aspects that allowed voters to feel like their needs had been anticipated. Polling locations in Brooklyn boasted signage in various languages and interpreters on site to make sure that voters could communicate with the volunteers in order to cast their ballot. As the polls continue to take votes, there’s no telling how frustration and miscommunication could have affected the number of votes for each candidate. The polls are open in New York until 9 pm tonight, if you need to locate your appropriate polling place, visit this link.