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Problems at the Polls: Voters Wait in Long Lines at P.S. 282 on Election Day

The Sixth Ave. school was packed with Park Slope residents who used to vote at John Jay— some residents waited up to an hour, and in some cases even longer, to cast their ballot.

 

As Election Day was in full swing, Park Slopers shuttled themselves to the polls on Tuesday to vote for their presidential candidate— President Barack Obama or Gov. Mitt Romney.

But with 24 voting poll sites in Brooklyn relocated due to Hurricane Sandy, some sites had to accommodate more voters than usual this year. One of the poll sites that had to open its doors to more residents on Tuesday was P.S. 282 on Sixth Ave.

At around 10 a.m., the line wound out of the doors and past the street corner.

Casting her ballot for the 2012 Presidential Election wasn’t an easy task for Willet Johnson— a long-time Park Slope resident and 83-year-old woman who has a heart condition and suffered a stroke recently.

“Oh my God, I’ve been here for almost two hours,” Johnson said at around noon on Tuesday while she was sitting on a bench outside the elementary school between Lincoln and Berkeley places.

“It's a lot different now from four years ago," she said of this year's digitalized voting process. "The electronic scanner messed up my vote, and I had to go to the end of the line and vote all over again.”

Johnson said that her stroke occurred a few months ago in the left side of her brain, affecting her right hand and she now has trouble writing.

“This is an important election and I need to make sure my vote counts. I am 83 years old and I have been voting in Park Slope since I was 18,” Johnson said, who lives on Fifth Ave. “Even though I had to wait two hours, there’s a lot more people and it’s confusing at the polls, I am just glad to be alive and I was able to cast my ballot.”

Etsy Stein, a 28-year-old Park Slope resident, usually votes at John Jay on Seventh Ave. but had to go to P.S. 282 because of poll site relocations due to the shelter set up for Hurricane Sandy evacuees at the high school.

Stein said she is concerned about the digital scanner mode of voting because she believes the technology still has great potential for mistakes.

While she waited for more than two hours for her turn to cast her ballot, an argument broke out between voters and poll workers.

“At one point, the poll workers gave the same ballot number to two people and voters started to get stressed out and started yelling,” Stein said, explaining that the workers have to write the ballot numbers in a few places manually before one uses the scanner. “They ended up catching the mistake and worked it out, but it just shows there is a big chance for human error.”

She concluded:

“What would happen if two people cast their votes under the same ballot number and they voted for different candidates?” Stein said. “I just hope my vote counts.”

A family of four, who walked out of the exit used for residents who usually vote at John Jay, said they also ran into problems while voting.

Ben Grossman, a 21-year-old Park Sloper, said his name was misspelled. 

“The Board of Elections screwed up my name,” Grossman said while standing with his brother and parents outside the polls and explained that they waited an hour in total. “They misspelled my name on my voter registration card, but they said it wouldn’t affect my vote.”

His father, Jerry Grossman, said that the voting process was confusing and the lines were very long.

A group of students from High School of Telecommunications, Art and Technology in Bay Ridge were outside P.S. 282 doing an exit poll for their math teacher. They were out interviewing voters starting at 7 a.m. and saw how the early morning voters reacted to the lines. 

“Early this morning it was a lot worse, people were angry about John Jay relocation and how they had to wait for more than an hour,” said Samantha Batsikas, who was standing with her math teacher. “One woman standing on line called 311 to complain about how poorly operated this polling site was at P.S. 282.”

A man waiting in line at around 11 a.m. said he came back to vote after seeing the enormous line at 7 a.m.

“The Board of Elections is terrible at organizing people,” said Geroge Perlov. “Once I go in my blood pressure is going to rise.”

But, not everyone voting at P.S. 282 on Tuesday was dissatisfied.

Paul Bernstein, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1975, said that he found his voting experience easy, considering Hurricane Sandy happened just last week.

“It’s not snowing yet, the hurricane is over and I’m just waiting in line,” said Bernstein. “I only waited 30 minutes so far, it’s a small price to pay to cast your vote in Park Slope. My wife’s family are in the Rockaways and they have huge problems.”

Maris Bibelnieks November 06, 2012 at 10:20 PM
We had aa issue as regards a large poster of Pres./Candidate Obama on the side of the securtity desk and when we complained were told by the school security lady to leave. We spoke to Katherine Donian, who was in charge, who directed us to the ploice officer outside the polling room, Officer Cardona who agreed and said he would take it down. t appeared that he was doing so as we left.M. Bibelnieks

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