NEW YORK—Long lines and limited resources greeted New York City voters across the city on Election Day, testing the patience of many voters, and taxing a city election system already stressed with redistricting and last minute poll site changes due to Superstorm Sandy.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Monday evening allowing voters in disaster areas to vote anywhere in New York state, leading many New Yorkers to cast their ballots at the nearest polling place using affidavit ballots. Those affidavit ballots became a precious commodity throughout the day, with sites running out for hours at a time.
“I think it is a really good idea and helps with the situation, I just didn’t expect everyone would be so unprepared for it,” said Dorothy Deming, 22, a graduate student at Baruch College on Tuesday evening. “I think there should have been more preparations.”
The New York City Board of Elections said it made copies of the affidavit ballots to keep up with the demand, but envelopes soon ran out. Election officials tried to provide sites with new materials as quickly as they could, but demand far exceeded supply.
“The governor’s executive order was passed just shy of 5 o’clock the day before the election,” Valerie Vazquez, director of communications for the New York City Board of Elections said. “We have done our best.” Vazquez said poll workers were instructed to use absentee ballots once the affidavit ballots ran out.
Baruch College was out of envelopes off and on throughout the day. “We have been sending them to other locations, but all of them have been running out of the envelopes. Unless they get the new envelopes they can’t vote,” Anita Kraus, a poll worker at Baruch College, said.
Kraus said many of the National Guard troops and students, who would not have been eligible to vote at that location without the governor’s order, were the majority of those using the affidavit ballots.
At nearby Baruch High School Elizabeth Pearce and her husband Richard Lasota warmly greeted voters. “We want the people to be glad they came and voted,” Pearce said. She reported minimal problems, however they ran out of affidavit ballots for five hours midday.
Pearce told voters to come back, and she reported many did in the evening. “There is a real sense of caring about voting,” Pearce said.
The BOE set up temporary polling sites in areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy such as Coney Island and the Rockaways with free buses running all day to shuttle voters to and from the polling sites.
Problems with late missing generators, heaters, and lights in the Rockaways hampered their start. “It just got a little chaotic,” poll worker Estel Lyons told the Wall Street Journal. “We had it planned the best we could and there were a few glitches.”
At least the weather cooperated.
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