Election Day Dispatches

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We bring you Election Day reports from around Brooklyn. Keep following our coverage on Twitter: twitter.com/thebrooklynink.

From Ishita Singh, who went to a polling place in Brooklyn Heights:

Voters at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights. Photo: Singh/The Brooklyn Ink
Voters at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights. Photo: Singh/The Brooklyn Ink

Finding the polling center at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights is a challenge. The sign that hangs on the main entrance is askew, and the paper arrows directing people to “Vote Here” flail hopelessly in the brisk November breeze.

Voters must walk all the way around the school and go through a tunnel-like hallway to enter the elementary school cafeteria cum polling center. And on a day assumed by many to be meaningless, Brooklyn Heights residents came out in large numbers to cast their vote for mayor, or as one woman told her toddler, “the big man king of New York.”

Older residents came, tottering towards the booths and fumbling with the long black drapes that covered each poll machine. Young residents came, including one woman with a giant blue Mike NYC button affixed to her cherry red tote bag. People brought their children, who cried impatiently as they waited in line for a turn in the “secret chamber.” One young boy in a blue coat wailed furiously as his mother tried to enter the booth. “No, mommy no! Don’t go in,” he screamed, clutching his mother’s khaki pants like a drowning sailor clutches a life raft.

But the woman entered anyway, leaving her son in the care of a smiling pollster. She had to do her civic duty, of course. Today was the day to elect the Big Man of New York, and no one in Brooklyn Heights wanted to miss their chance.


From Leah Finnegan, who went to a school in Flatbush:

The Caton School gymnasium. Photo: Finnegan/The Brooklyn Ink
The Caton School gymnasium. Photo: Finnegan/The Brooklyn Ink

The yellow-lit gymnasium at Caton School in Flatbush is full of chatter, but most voices come from the 30 poll workers stationed around the room’s perimeter. One, wearing a straw hat and a red shirt, idly eats a rice cake. Another reasons with a perturbed voter: had he in fact submitted his change-of-address form in time for today, he would be cleared to vote. He’s sent away.

Voters trickle in one, then two; they disperse across the room. There are mothers and babies, old women leaning on their canes, men in golf caps trussed up in smart fall coats. An older man in a Trump Plaza windbreaker and a baseball hat complains to a poll worker. “The trouble is that there are too many booths in one place,” he says. “They should scatter them in different schools.”

The voting booths have black nylon curtains. They look like garbage bags.


From Terry Baynes, who went to a school in Midwood:

At the corner of 17th St. and Avenue L in Midwood.  Photo: Baynes/Brooklyn Ink
At the corner of 17th St. and Avenue L in Midwood. Photo: Baynes/Brooklyn Ink

“I met Bloomberg yesterday,” said a man in the center of the basketball court at Edward R. Murrow High School. “I told him, ‘My wife would go to war for you. But I’m not voting for anyone.’” The short man waved a hand in the direction of a woman in line at one of the voting booths in the Midwood polling station. He looked to be in his seventies, with a gray five-o’clock shadow and age-spotted skin. When he spoke, he bounced. He seemed almost proud of his voting abstinence, poised to tell his story.

To the man’s surprise, Bloomberg didn’t question his refusal to vote. “Aren’t you going to ask me why?” he asked the mayor. “Why?” Bloomberg played along. The man explained that it was because he cannot afford a decent condo in New York. Even though his home back in Russia was destroyed by the Germans, it was solid, made of granite. “The condos here are terrible,” he said. “The walls are paper thin, you can hear the TV in the apartment next door. And the dogs!” He scrunched his nose, spitting the last word.

“I’m lower-middle class; I can’t afford a good condo.” And moving out of New York City is not an option, he said, because then you have to drive to even get to the supermarket. He can’t drive at his age, he explained. He blames Robert Moses for the dependence on superhighways outside the city. “If I could, I would resurrect Robert Moses,” he said. “And kill him again.”

With that sudden outburst, the man’s wife walked up to him with a quizzical look. He shot the same look back. “What, did you vote already?” he asked. “No, the line’s too long. I won’t be able to do my assignment this afternoon,” she said in a Russian accent. His face dropped. “What? Are you sure?” he asked, crestfallen. She was the woman who was supposed to go to war for Bloomberg. He processed the news, took her arm, and escorted her out of the high school gym.

Poll workers were very excited about their brand new Ballot Marking Device. Voters get to sit, enter a paper ballot into the machine, touch a screen, and the machine physically marks the paper.  The first person to use the BMD today was Richard Green of Midwood, who pulled his wheelchair up to the BMD to vote.

The polling station was not packed but had a steady flow of about 7-10 voters at a time.  Thomasina Cipriano, one of the poll station coordinators, has been working elections for over 10 years.  She said the turnout was fairly average for Midwood.  She predicted it would get busier later around dinner time when “the religious Jewish come in with their hundred kids.”

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