Historic contest brings heavy county turnout

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Poll workers from all corners of the borough said they saw massive voter turnout on Election Day as swarms of residents showed up to cast their ballots beginning in the early morning and slackened off only periodically throughout the day before a new wave emerged in the evening.

Several hundred voters, many of whom were in their 20s and 30s, stood in line at 6:30 a.m. at Astoria’s PS 85, while more than 200 Springfield Gardens voters waited for two hours to use the two machines at PS 37. A poll worker at Douglaston’s PS 98 said that nearly half of the 800 voters registered for that site had cast their ballots by mid−day.

A Bayside poll worker said that an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 residents had voted on the poll’s six machines by 7:15 p.m., a measure of busy activity at the site.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” said Steve Choi, an attorney who was on hand to monitor voters’ problems at JHS 189 in Flushing on Election Day. “I did this four years ago and it’s already been busier than it was for that election.”

By− 7 p.m., Choi said he had seen as much as four times the amount of turnout this year than he observed in 2004.

Petrina Dimanso, a Howard Beach poll clerk, said there had been a steady stream of voters filing in during the late morning at PS 207.

“It hasn’t stopped since six in the morning,” she said. “At 6 a.m. they were out the door.”

Margaret Sheridan, a Democratic election inspector at PS 41 in Bayside, said that more than 1,000 people had voted at the site by 11 a.m., while an estimated 60 to 70 voters waited in line around noon at Woodside’s PS 12. Poll workers at St. Albans’ Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center said they were greeted by 300 people in the morning who were waiting to vote.

Other poll workers said they were overwhelmed by massive crowds.

“At 5:15 a.m., there were people standing in the lobby and the line extended out the door and around the block,” said Grace Lawrence, an election coordinator at East Elmhurst’s PS 127.

Lawrence said the voting room was packed with people from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. She said some voters waited for more than an hour to cast their ballots. She said she had not seen so many voters in the district, which is heavily black and Latino, since Jesse Jackson’s 1988 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“This is history,” she said. “One word, that’s it.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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