Hurricane Sandy Evacuees Get Voting Help from Park Slope Volunteer

By Leslie Albrecht on November 6, 2012 7:47pm 

PARK SLOPE — Hurricane Sandy robbed people of ther lives and homes, but one Park Slope resident made sure the storm didn't take away the right to vote for 75 evacuees.

Livia Beasley, a volunteer at Park Slope Armory emergency shelter on 15th Street and Eighth Avenue, spent Election Day rounding up absentee ballots at the shelter and hand delivering them to a Board of Elections office in Queens.

That's where many of the evacuees at the Armory shelter are from. Many are elderly residents of Far Rockaway senior homes damaged by the hurricane. The shelter, which now holds a few hundred people, also serves disabled and wheelchair-bound evacuees.

Beasley was working a volunteer shift at the Armory on Thursday when she started chatting with some evacuees about the upcoming election.

"A lot of them are really politically minded, so I started to ask them if they were planning to vote on Tuesday and discovered that many of them didn’t know how they would do that," said Beasley, a 36-year-old freelance writer and producer of children's TV.

With the clock ticking, Beasley sprung into action, contacting friends with political know-how to get a crash course in voting logistics. Two things worked in her favor: the deadline for filing absentee ballot applications was extended until Monday, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an order allowing evacuees to cast affidavit ballots at any polling site.

Beasley printed out 200 absentee ballot applications, then wrangled a team of volunteers to go from cot to cot at the Armory on Sunday night, helping evacuees fill out the paperwork.

Beasley stayed until about 3 p.m. Monday, then raced to Queens to hand deliver the applications. Once there, elections workers worked with her for two hours to make sure all the applications had been correctly filled out, she said.

On Election Day, she came back to the Armory to help the evacuees fill out their ballots. About 75 used the absentee ballots and five or 10 used affidavit ballots to vote at nearby polling places. On Tuesday night she spoke to DNAinfo New York as she was in the car driving to the Queens Board of Elections.

"These folks have lost a lot, they're in a lot of chaos," Beasley said. "The whole purpose of us volunteering there is to help them maintain their comfort and dignity, so I wanted to help them vote too."

She added, "People were really worried (about voting). It made me treasure my ability to vote."

The Park Slope Armory and the emergency shelter at John Jay Educational Campus on Seventh Avenue still need volunteers. For more information on how to help, check City Councilman Brad Lander's website.

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