Many New Yorkers Still Unsure Of Where To Vote

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A day before the election, some storm-stricken New Yorkers were trying to figure out where to vote. Meanwhile, the New York City Board of Elections is under pressure to make things run smoothly.


Now to another complicated post-storm challenge in New York City, and that's Election Day. Some residents are still wondering where they should vote tomorrow. And that's after the City Board of Elections announced the relocation of dozens of polling sites.

NPR's Quil Lawrence has that story.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: About 60 polling stations will be combined or moved, according to city election officials. Voters who are staying in shelters or far from their homes can catch shuttle buses. But in the aftermath of the storm, many people are just getting back in the loop as their power, their telephones and their TVs come back on. The normal get-out-the-vote effort hasn't really been working everywhere.

SOCARO DE JESUS: They usually get like a paper letting you know where you going to vote. We haven't got mail for five days. So...

LAWRENCE: Socaro de Jesus lives in the Baruch towers housing project on the Lower East Side with her 85-year-old mother. She says she just moved back into her apartment last night after a week with a relative, and she's cleaning up and trying to get her bills paid. She'll vote but she's not sure where.

So you don't know where your polling station is?

JESUS: No. I have no idea. It's either here or the day care center over here on Delancy.

LAWRENCE: It was going to be right on the corner, at a high school on East Houston St. But that's a block from the East River. And last week around, this time it was in the East River.


LAWRENCE: The high school is still pumping out water from the basement and carrying out trash. So the new polling station is at an elementary school down the street.


LAWRENCE: Students played in the gym as an inspector from the Board of Elections checked out the site for tomorrow. The board and their employees are under a lot of pressure, not least from Mayor Michael Bloomberg who made his views clear at a press conference yesterday.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: I've always believed that the Board of Elections should be overhauled to increase its accountability and efficiency. The fact that the board has been unable to agree on selecting a new executive director for two years shows just how dysfunctional it is. And the difficulties they've had in planning for Tuesday, I think further underscores that.

LAWRENCE: Election Board Commissioner JC Polanco didn't seem surprised at what he called potshots from elected officials.

JC POLANCO: I hope that the mayor and other elected officials that normally would attack us at this time, would lay down their swords and work with us this time around. I think we've done a great job working together throughout this crisis. And working together, we'll be able to have success tomorrow.

LAWRENCE: Polanco said elected officials like to beat up on the board because it's independent and not under their control. But he also said it's not going to be easy. With all the damage from the storm, Polanco said he'd understand if some New Yorkers have a lot more on their minds than politics. But he urged them to vote.

POLANCO: Do not despair. We don't want you to leave that poll site without voting. And you have my word that the commissioners will not certify an election until every single valid ballot has been counted.

LAWRENCE: New Yorkers hope that process will go more smoothly than the tumultuous lead-up to this Election Day.

Quil Lawrence, NPR News, New York.




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