Livia Beasley helps Hurricane Sandy evacuees file absentee ballots in 26-hour pre-election marathon

The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

“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 was back at the Armory on election day, 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.

Beasley said the results from the Armory were clear.

“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.”

Updated 5:37 pm, July 9, 2018
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