Long Lines, Motivated Voters

PS 76 Bennington Middle School, Bronx

The line stretched out the door and the air was warm as voters waited to cast their votes. “My paper got stuck in the machine, so I’m waiting to get a new one,” said Laura Rubeis, 59, a Bronx native.

Many New Yorkers said that the 2018 midterm elections were more important than any other midterm in their lifetimes and that they hoped to regain a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. “I hope the votes will open up the eyes of the people who voted for the president,” said Henderson Torres, 18, a first-time voter and Bronx native. “They don’t really think about us, the minorities. I hope this doesn’t go as bad as the presidential election.”

A survey by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School of Government found that 40 percent of those under 30 say they will “definitely” vote this year, compared to the 36.4 percent of young voters who voted in 2014.

Diana Fabian, 23, a Bronx native, and second-time voter said she did her homework. “I was forced to vote for certain people. The conservatives were a little radical, so I had to choose the obvious choice.” Paul Larrow, who worked the poll as a scanner inspector said he wasn’t surprised by the large turnout. “People are serious about change, and this may be a start,” he said.

Esmie Fraser, a poll site coordinator, who has been working at the election polls for 21 years also expected the turnout. However, she said, “We have 100 voters without a registration card. We have to get them a ballot, it’s very important to identify you.”

A voter registration card allows a voter to cast a ballot. Without it, if they are eligible to vote, they will have to register on an electoral roll before they are allowed to vote. “This happens 95 percent of the time,” said Fraser. “Today is a crisis. This is what we have today in the Bronx.”

Willie Killian, a poll coordinator who has participated in the poll elections for eight years, said he would like the House to become more Democratic. “I’m a Republican but I’m not happy with administration and their rhetoric,” he said. – Shaiann Frazier

Tilden Towers II, Bronx 

Voters at Tilden Towers were grumpy due to the slow-moving lines and machines that were breaking down. “This line is long and they always have these old senior citizens doing this and they take so long,” said Kevin Mitchell, 24, a local Bronx resident. “I’m not going to lie I was starting to get agitated.”

Ashley Lyles, 32, an ASE high school teacher, found it a bit suspicious that the machines were not working properly. “I believe that they always give the Bronx the old run-down machines so it could mess with our voting numbers. Why are these machines never working? It is always a damn problem in here. This is what causes people not to want to come here and vote.”

Deron Burgos, 28, a part-time Uber driver, said he liked to see the long lines because it showed the community was coming out. Many said they weren’t that informed about the people or the issues, but simply felt compelled to vote. Not sure who to vote for, they opted for picking all Democrats. Some, like Harry Matos, 22, an executive chef didn’t know if they were registered but came because of a friend or family member. “I was not even going to come, it was wet and raining so, I was not really in the mood,” said Matos. “My sister looked online on one of those sites that you can check to see if you’re registered in your borough and she saw my name.”

Angela Stevens, 35, a local Bronx resident, said she was driven to vote by her dislike of Trump. “Another man like him cannot step back into that office or we are all done,” she said. “I’m literally just going to vote for all Democrats down the page. I don’t care who it is honestly. One of them has got to work out for us.” — Breya Ashante Johnston

Co-op City Bartow Community Center, Bronx

The polling site in Co-op City was crowded at 9 AM with residents who were voting before work and elderly retirees. The scene was a little chaotic, said Hector Gomez, 50, a cashier. “Some stations had ballots while others didn’t so people had to wait on line while they got more ballots,” he said. Gomez said he had learned about the candidates through television ads and some online research. His reason for voting: to make the city a better place to live with more opportunities and services.

Jaquira Truesdale, 20, said she hoped the candidates would keep their word about reducing taxes. “I work and go to school and whenever I get my check, a huge amount of my check is taken by taxes,” she said. “I work very hard to pay my bills and I want all the money that should be rightfully mine and not for it to just go straight to taxes.”

Truesdale said she was put off by the long lines but came out anyway. “I’m an African American woman and there was a time when African Americans and women couldn’t vote,” she said. “Now we can so I’m taking advantage of that.” — Deanna Garcia

PS 8 Elementary School, Bronx

Some New Yorkers found it harder to vote than they expected. Dynaysia Williams, a group leader at Moshulu Montefiore Community Center, thought she was registered to vote, but had to fill out a provisional ballot. She said she will be “registered and ready” for the next election. Anthony Jenkins was unable to vote at PS 8 due to a change of address. “I forgot that I mailed my new address to the voter registration official after I moved out of the home my ex-wife and I use to share,” he said.

Veronica Felton, a clerical aide for Four World Trade in Manhattan, said she hoped the election outcome would result in better jobs and affordable housing, and protection of women’s rights. “Just because we don’t make as much as the next person doesn’t mean we don’t work as hard, she said, adding that she hoped elected officials would understand New Yorkers’ challenges and concerns. “I hoping more listening comes out of this election and less not listening and less communication.” — Keith A. Lopez

PS 33 Timothy Dwight, Bronx

Ulysses Hernandez, 24, a tutor said it took him three tries to scan his ballot but it worked eventually. “With everything that’s going on right now with the government I want to make sure that my voice is heard as a citizen,” he said. Hernandez said he cares most about immigration. “I come from a family of immigrants and I want to make sure that everyone that I vote for sees the views that I see, that immigration is something that needs to be worked on.”

Jason Lombardi, 44, theater usher, said he had come to put more Democrats in office and because he was concerned about health care. “I had Obamacare and now I don’t have insurance,” he said.

“I vote today for a radical change” Gerardo Lora, 68, a retired worker said in Spanish. “I want to elect politicians that can make sure that the president doesn’t take too much advantage of his power, and the only way we can stop him from doing whatever he wants is by voting.” — Yaniris Monegro

Renaissance Middle School, Queens

Cold and rainy weather did not stop voters from turning out, ready to cast their ballots, at Renaissance Middle School in the St. Albans section of Queens. “I came out in the rain because we can’t do anything now about Trump in power but I sure as hell can do something about these Senate seats,” said Jennifer Smith, 58, a nurse at Queens County Hospital. “It took me a while standing in line, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Many voted along party lines. Roy Morrison, 59, a handyman, said he cast his vote for Democrats. Jose Martinez, 43, a construction worker from the Hollis area in Queens, also voted for only Democrats, though it took him a while to vote. “They had trouble finding my name, too many Martinez,” he said with a chuckle. “But that didn’t stop me cause I wanted to vote. I came out here in the rain, because I want Trump and his people them out.” — Lloyd Beckford

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