In case you haven’t noticed the litany of passive aggressive, condescending, or otherwise ignorant status updates flooding your Facebook feed, it’s voting day for the New York primaries y’all! And the questions on everyone’s mind remain: Are we Cruzin’ for a Trump bruisin’? And, as Carolyn Hines, a poll station volunteer at Cooper Park Houses joked, “You wanna know if we feelin the Bern or if we Hillary Clinton? Because we can’t really say that.”
But not everyone who visited the East Williamsburg polling station today was in such high spirits, and that’s actually why we showed up on the scene. As we found out on Twitter this morning, some local voters arrived at their designated voting site at the crack of dawn (no doubt some of them hoping to cast their vote before work started this morning) only to find that they were SOL.
The polls were scheduled to open Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., but many voters who arrived shortly after found that the Cooper Park site was unexpectedly closed. One resident tweeted out her frustration just before 8 am this morning.
— Rebecca Keith (@KeithRebecca) April 19, 2016
By the time we arrived just after 12:30 pm, the community center section of the NYCHA public housing complex was buzzing with voters, most of them elderly and many of them Spanish-speaking. Hines, who sat behind a table where she was helping check voters in and verify their registration, informed us that the late opening, “Wasn’t nobody’s fault here.”
According to the site coordinator, Dwain Woods, when the volunteers arrived at 5 am this morning, they found that the site was locked. “Housing didn’t open the building,” he said, referring to NYCHA. According to Woods, someone finally showed up with a key and volunteers were eventually able to open up the polls by 7:30 am. When asked if the experience was frustrating he said, “Yes, but now it’s smooth.”
Unfortunately what might seem like a small snag could have potentially put out dozens or more voters. And across the city, there have been a number of problems. There’s the potentially confusing ballot design thanks to “antiquated New York law,” and the issue of broke-ass machines. Ugh. On top of that, New York has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country (including no Election-Day registration), potentially disenfranchising a huge number of otherwise totally eligible voters for really no good reason at all.
But here’s to hoping you weren’t one of the hundreds of would-be voters who are alleging in a lawsuit filed yesterday against the State of New York that their voter registrations had been lost or their party affiliation changed without their knowledge. As Gothamist noted, most of these victims of voter disenfranchisement (whether intentional or not, remains to be seen) who took to social media to express their outrage “are seemingly Bernie Sanders supporters.” Yikes. Your last chance to claim or switch party affiliation was back in October, so it’s far, far too late for many of these people to try and address the errors (even for Ivanka and Eric Trump who’ve been able to campaign for their dad, but can’t vote for him today). Hence the lawsuit.
Meanwhile the response from the Board of Elections has basically been to sit back, narrow their eyes, and sip some tea. As Tom Connolly, a board spokesperson told Gothamist. “A lot can happen in eight years as far as moving around, not being aware, and filling out forms […] they just have this in their head that they should be a certain way, and when they find out that they’re not, and it’s too late to change it, they’re usually pretty upset. I understand that, but there’s nothing I can do about changing the laws.”
It’s not over till it’s over guys, so stay tuned for more election coverage on B+B, and check out the Times live feed here. It’s a lot to take in, we know, but you can rest easy in knowing that after a long day of ballot boxing, somewhere there’s an ice cold sidewalk beer waiting for you, or if you’re the social type there’s another kind of “safe space” available for you and your people at the Bernie/ Hillary dance-off. Just do us a favor and stay far, far away from your relatives’ Facebook walls. The polls are scheduled to remain open until 9 pm tonight, and if you’re still not sure where your local polling station is, you can find out here.