Voters report irregularities at poll sites throughout Brooklyn

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Reports of confusion and disorder at poll sites across the borough have cast a muddled shadow over the June 23 primary elections, just as Brooklynites attempt to vote in one of the city’s most unusual elections in modern history.  

All before noon, several voters described misprinted ballots, closed polling sites, and abnormally long lines as poll workers scramble to correct mistakes. 

Isiah James, one of the congressional candidates seeking to unseat Rep. Yvette Clarke , relayed several reports of irregularities — including ballots at PS 22 in Crown Heights that did not include options for congressional races, and a polling location at Success Academy in Flatbush that was closed entirely as late as 9:30 am — despite a scheduled 6 am opening. 

At both locations, where voters will determine the Democratic nominee for the congressional seat currently occupied by Yvette Clarke, attendees were forced to wait hours as poll workers worked to remedy the situations, according to James. 

Congressional candidate Paperboy Love Prince, a Brooklyn rapper running to unseat longtime incumbent Rep. Nydia Velazquez in northern Brooklyn, claimed that poll workers gave them a ballot that listed only presidential candidates and no local elections. 

“I literally had to make a fuss to vote!” the candidate wrote on Twitter


Voters at PS 261 in Boerum Hill reported a drastic shortage of poll workers, where the situation became so dire that the short-staffed crew attempted to recruit people who walked in to vote as make-shift poll workers. 

Downtown resident Wilfred Bright, who went to the location to vote Tuesday morning, told Brooklyn Paper that he was recruited to work as an accessibility clerk, responsible for helping disabled voters access the scanners.

Luckily, Bright says, he had worked at other polling locations in previous years, leading him to jump at the opportunity to help out — which, he says, he was offered money to do. 

“One of the ladies asked ‘sir have you ever worked polls before?'” Bright said as he hung up voting signs on a fence outside the school. “She said ‘do you want to work?’ I said, ‘sure, why not?'” 

Bright said the lack of volunteers was due to fears of the coronavirus, which has kept poll workers — who typically skew older — in their homes and away from the locations.

Other sites have operated more smoothly. Voters at MS 282 in Park Slope reported no hassles. 

“It was very easy, it was like doing a test — you fill in the dots,” said a voter who gave her name as Nancy S. 

Other voters said they were only voting in person because they never received their absentee ballots. 

“Me and my wife and my son had all sent in [applications for] our absentee ballots but we didn’t receive them,” said Park Sloper George Horner, who v0ted at MS 282 with his dog Nana. “But it’s no big deal, the important thing to do is vote.” 

George Horner and Nana at MS 282 after voting.Photo by Kevin Duggan

Update (3:00 pm): Reports of errors and missteps have mostly slowed down as voting has continued into the afternoon but irregularities have continued to pop up.

A polling place in Ocean Hill received ballots for the wrong state senate race, according to voters. 

The poll site at the Saratoga Square Senior Center offered voters ballots for the 18th State Senate District, instead of the 25th District where three candidates are currently vying to replace Senator Velmanette Montgomery. No one at that polling site was able to vote in the state senate race, voters said. 

Update (7:00 pm): Voters faced more hurdles in the NY-9 congressional district as voting continued into the evening. Those trying to vote at Erasmus High School in Flatbush were told to either fill out an affidavit ballot or go home and complete their absentee ballots because the polling site had run out of ballots. Voters in East Flatbush were given an incorrect ballot that left out the NY-9 congressional race, according to candidate Isiah James.

Check back here for live updates throughout the day. Let us know what you’re seeing at your poll site at bpnewsroom@schnepsmedia.com