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Even though voters flooded the borough’s polling sites for Tuesday’s historic election, poll monitors said Queens residents had not reported the kinds of problems many had feared would surface.
“Everything has been really calm,” said Leon Jacobson, a CUNY Law student who was monitoring the PS 64 polling station in Ozone Park.
Fellow CUNY Law student and poll monitor Casey Bryant, also in Ozone Park, said some people had been asked for identification, which is not needed unless individuals had registered by mail.
“This is such a momentous election, and it’s important that we’re here to make sure people know their voting rights,” Bryant said. “But things seem to be going well.”
Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund Margaret Fung said dozens of poll monitors spread out across Queens had only reported minor problems through the late afternoon.
AALDEF Staff Attorney Steve Choi, who worked the 2004 election and spent the day at JHS 189 in Flushing, said voter turnout was “three or four times” what it had been during the last presidential election.
Fung said most of the problems being reported — broken machines, long waits and minor altercations between voters and poll workers — could be attributed to the extremely heavy turnout of voters.
There were no extraordinary problems apart from the long lines. I think it’s mostly a matter that its been a little overwhelming for some of the poll workers,” Fung said.
She said there were some reports at a polling station at the Queens Botanical Garden of voters who had voted before being asked for identification and sporadic reports from around the borough of voters not being listed as registered, but none of the incidents were out of the ordinary.
Alex Quinteros, 40, of Flushing, said he and his girlfriend went to vote in the morning, but her name was not in the voter registry book despite the fact that she received a polling place card in the mail.
“People there didn’t seem to know what to do,” he said, noting workers first told them his girlfriend would have to fill out an affidavit ballot before finding her name in an auxiliary voter registry book. “Ninety percent of the people, if they were to experience that initial obstacle, they would just give up,” he said. “I’m not saying vote suppression, but there is a lack of organization on the part of the Board of Elections.”
For some voters who simply had to bear long waits, like Edward Fu of Flushing, the wait was hardly an inconvenience.
“I don’t mind the wait, it’s very exciting,” said Fu, who voted for Democratic nominee Barack Obama. “This is only my second time voting, but it almost feels like the first. It’s just very exciting.”
Phyllis Ellison, a poll coordinator at PS 226 in Richmond Hill, said poll workers had seen some long lines and a jammed machine, which was quickly fixed following the station’s opening.
Reporter Jeremy Walsh contributed to this story.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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