As if voting in the U.S. wasn't enough of a hassle, try casting your ballot a week after a pseudo-hurricane beat your state around like a rag doll.
With more than 240 polling centers rendered useless by the storm, the city spent the last week scrambling to find alternates. By Monday afternoon, Governor Cuomo had scrapped the plan altogether, allowing people to vote wherever they could find a center.
Too bad not everyone got the memo.
I was lucky to make it to my polling center in Astoria, Queens just before 8:30 a.m., when the line started spilling out onto the sidewalk. Whatever air wasn't taken up by people at my polling center was jam-packed with anxiety. It was clear from the get-go that a lot of people weren't sure they were in the right place.
Sandy-ites were supposed to fill out an affidavit in order to vote at polling centers different from where they were originally assigned. If you weren't in that line, there were at least eight others to choose from, each designated for different districts –– all of which were crammed into one tiny school cafeteria.
I was assigned to District 4, but a volunteer shuffled me into the line meant for Sandy voters. In all the confusion, I didn't realize until I hit the front of the line. While a volunteer kept trying to shove an affidavit in my hand, I was finally able to flag down a representative from the Board of Elections and explain the problem.
She promptly told me to join the back of the correct line, which by that point was halfway down the block outside.
If it hadn't been for a very kind woman standing at the front of the line who let me slip in front of her, I would have added another hour to my morning commute. I filled out my ballot (pro tip: bring a pen!) but I felt self-conscious as I shoved my way through the throngs of people to scan my ballot on the other end of the room. No one had given me a folder or paper to cover my answers.
"Voting today in the city was god awful," said Jessica O'Neal, who cast her vote in Harlem, in a Facebook post. "After they couldn't find my name, I learned the attendants put me in the wrong district line. There were actually three different districts voting in one tiny room. Then I had to stand in line for another 20 minutes because a cop would not let me cut...I was literally about to burst in tears."
Like O'Neal, I don't think I breathed until the "Thank You For Voting!" message flashed across the ballot scanner's screen and I could finally make my escape.
From what I've heard and read from other accounts, there's been a mixed bag of experiences voting in NYC today. Some breezed through and others waited for hours to cast their vote.
How did it go? Let us know in the comments.
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