Today is the day when Brooklynites come together to exercise the most fundamental expression of democracy — but this year they’re doing it at a time when the borough is still reeling from Hurricane Sandy.
The chaos wrought by the storm combined with the general craziness of a big election day in the city means today could get interesting. Either way, we’ll be here all day, tracking the good, the bad, and the ugly, as Brooklynites get out to vote.
11:24 pm: The call is in — and it’s going to President Obama!
10:11 pm: Hakeem is in the House.
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene) easily defeated his rivals to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Towns as the Congressman representing Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Coney Island, Bright Beach, and Sheepshead Bay, according to a photographer assigned to cover his victory party.
The attorney and frontrunner had no trouble trouncing Green Party candidate Colin Beavan and Republican hopeful Alan Bellone — just as he handedly beat Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie) in the Democratic primary.
8:10 pm: At least in Prospect Heights, lines at polling places are much shorter than they were this morning. A reporter waited only 20 minutes to vote at PS 22 on St. Marks Place — a breeze compared to the hour and a half line voters experienced there this morning.
So if you haven’t voted — get out there! It’s one of those rare times when democracy in this country moves quickly.
5:59 pm: Paper Magazine has a great round-up of places to watch the returns in Brooklyn. Our favorite entry? Galapagos Art Space, which was damaged by flood waters in last week’s Hurricane, will host a fete tonight with the election results projected on a big screen.
5:30 pm: In addition to hosting Fort Greene and Clinton Hill voters, PS 46 also held a bake sale today to raise funds from the school. Lots of hungry voters indulged, proving once and for all that democracy and a free market economy go hand-in-hand.
3:35 pm: In some parts of the country, people spend their time fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent others from voting. But here in the Brooklyn, locals are giving their blood, sweat, and tears to get everyone they can out to vote — especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
A 36-year-old Park Slope TV writer volunteering at the Park Slope Armory realized that many of the evacuees at the makeshift storm shelter were not going to be able to make it back to their devastated neighborhoods to vote — so she worked a 26-hour shift printing, distributing, and then collecting absentee ballot applications.
And she narrowly managed to beat the city’s voting deadlines.
“I was calling everyone and Facebooking everyone and trying to get everyone to help,” said Livia Beasley. “That’s how it is in producing television. Sometime’s there’s a crunch, it’s no biggie.”
As she volunteered at the Seventh Avenue shelter last week after the storm, Beasley found out that many of the people she was attending to — largely a group of older residents from two independent care facilities in the Rockaways — had no way to get to the polls, nor any other way for them to vote at the shelter.
“Friday it started to dawn on them that they weren’t going to be able to get back on Tuesday,” said Beasley, who Park Slopers might know from the band Barefoot Walking. “That’s when I started making calls.”
Luckily for her, the state Board of Elections extended the deadline to apply for absentee ballots in person to Monday — giving her one day to make sure the storm evacuees received and turned around the paperwork they needed before a 5 pm Tuesday deadline for hand-delivering the ballots.
Beasley printed out stacks of the applications on Sunday evening, then she began her gruelling, vote-gathering marathon.
The trick was finding people who were awake.
“It doesn’t get completely dark in here, and these folks don’t necessarily all sleep at the same time,” said Beasley, who worked straight through the night through Monday. “In the middle of the night I was seeing who was awake and we did register a bunch of people in the middle of the night.”
After collecting 76 absentee ballot applications, Beasley and fellow volunteers raced to the Board of Elections outposts in Brooklyn and Queens, flagging some cabs, to get them in before the offices closed Monday evening.
She said she headed home at 9 pm on Monday — after beginning her one-woman get-out-the-vote effort at 7 pm the day before.
After her first night of sleep since Saturday, Beasley is back at the Armory today, gathering the ballots themselves.
She and some other volunteers also took several shelter residents to vote today due to Gov. Cuomo’s affidavit ballot provision, which allows New Yorkers in storm-affected areas to vote anywhere they’d like in the state.
The country may wait all night — or longer — to find out the numbers in this hotly contested presidential election, but Beasley said the results were in from the Armory, and they were clear.
“I think there were maybe two people voting for Romney talking about it in like a hush-hush tone,” she said. “But just about everyone said they were going to vote for Obama.”
2:40 pm: Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush) says voting in his district has been a mess.
“It seems to me to be complete chaos,” he said. “It’s very frustrating. I think they should have just cancelled the local elections and focussed on the presidential race.”
The mayhem was at its worst at the station at Vanderveer Park United Methodist Church on Glenwood Road and PS 269 on Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush, he said.
“At Vanderveer, there were not enough workers and hundreds of people had to go through these very narrow hallways. There was nobody explaining to people what was going on,” he said. “PS 269 had amazing crowds and not enough workers. I overheard a worker telling people they had to vote all the way Democrat or all the way Republican.”
Williams claims two polling stations opened very late — PS 208 on Avenue D near Utica Avenue and PS 198 on Farragut Road near E. 42nd Street in East Flatbush.
“This is an area that was not as badly affected by the Hurricane as other areas,” he said. “I can’t even imagine what’s going on in those areas.
Luckily the chaos did not affect every polling place in the area. Williams said he cast his ballot at PS 193 on Avenue L and despite some minor disorganization only waited 30 minutes.
He pointed to systemic problems with voting system in the state.
“They can’t get it right on a non-Sandy election day, what makes them think they’d be able to do a good job on a Sandy election day?” he said.
2:14 pm: Smartphones can do dumb things.
Brooklynites with smart phones and camera phones, and other photographic instruments beware: those cool photos you’re seeing of filled out ballots are probably illegal. The law, as usual, is a bit murky; but Gothamist has the scoop.
Voters are not allowed to reveal the contents of their ballots, but it seems there’s a bit of a gray area.
1:50 pm: Brooklynites aren’t that jazzed about waiting hours in line, even in this once-in-every-four-years caliber election. This is New York — we’ve got places (and jobs and bosses) to attend to! Here are some quick reactions from PS 22 on the border of Prospect and Crown Heights.
“I waited about an hour an a half,” said Mark Ellison, a project manager at an internet company in Manhattan. “It was pretty much OK — but they could have used a few more volunteers.”
“I waited for two solid hours because one worker to me to go into the line for the wrong district,” said Dara Cammerman, who was running late to her job as a social worker in Queens. “It’s the most disorganized I’ve ever seen it. This is why election day should be a national holiday.”
“I’m going to be late to work — but it’s worth it,” said Peggy Jordan, who works for Citibank in Manhattan and said her hour-and-half wait was better than two hours it took when she voted four years ago in the state of Virginia.
1:30 pm: Casting a vote took hours for many Brooklynites this morning.
• The queues for voters in Prospect and Crown Heights were up to two hours at PS 22 on St. Marks Place.
• Fort Greene and Clinton Hill residents waited up to an hour at PS 46 on Clermont Avenue.
• Park Slopers reported two-hours waits at MS 51 on Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street.
• Boerum Hill politicos said they stood around for two hours at PS 261 on Pacific Street.
• Flatbushers spent two hours waiting at PS 249 on Marlborough.
12:35 pm: Late starts in Coney Island: two out of Coney Island’s three polling sites had no ballots as of 8 am, according to Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Coney Island) and Councilman David Greenfield (D–Borough Park).
Polling sites are supposed to be open and presumably ready for voting at 6 am. Voting machines arrived over an hour late to multiple polling sites, as well, according to Brook-Krasny.
“We have some other type of crisis here, partially organized by Hurricane Sandy, partially organized by the Board of Elections,” he told Politicker this morning.
“[I]f the Board of Elections knew yesterday this was the poll site that would be assigned today, were they sleeping this morning?”