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Redistricting and Broken Machines Frustrate Hunters Point Voters

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 6, 2012 2:08pm

HUNTERS POINT — Voters waited in long lines at polling sites in Hunters Point on Tuesday, and many said they were confused about where they were supposed to cast their votes.

Some residents discovered — only after waiting for a long time at one site — that they had been assigned a different polling site for the election after district lines were redrawn earlier this year and others encountered broken voting machines.

Ryan O’Toole, who works at a film laboratory, said he waited for more than an hour at a polling site at P.S. 78 at 48-09 Center Blvd., where he has voted since he moved to the neighborhood five years ago.

But as it turned out, his polling site had been moved earlier this year to Information Technology High School at 21-16 44th Rd., about half a mile away, he said. 

“I can see my apartment from here,” said O’Toole who lives nearby, on Vernon Boulevard, as he stood in front of his old polling site. He said he had never received any information about the change in voting stations.

Katherine Glass, 28, a theater director, who also lives near the waterfront, said that it had taken about 20 minutes to walk to her new polling site at 44th Road. Then, after she arrived at about 8:30 a.m. she said she had to wait for more than an hour to cast her vote.

“It’s really crazy,” she said.

Many voters said they were annoyed about the long wait.

At P.S. 78, where people had to wait outside with a strong, cold wind blowing off the water in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, some joked they favored moving the election to spring.

Carla Wilson, 39, got to the polling site about 8 a.m., but said she did not cast her vote until more than an hour later.

“It’s chaos in there,” she said. "And everyone is very slow.”

At Information Technology High School on 44th Road, voters were allowed to wait inside but frustration grew after both scanners at the location broke down about 7 a.m.

Nicolaos Kouvelos, a coordinator at the site, said he had to initiate a special procedure and start putting votes into emergency boxes. The votes will be scanned later, he said. 

But many voters were not pleased.

“If someone makes and error on their ballot, the scanner would normally spit the ballot out and tell them there is an error and allow them to revote,” said Wayne Chiarella, 36 a maintenance worker. "But these voters have left, so if they made an error, their vote won’t count."

Chiarella also said he didn’t get a receipt. “So there is no way to know if your vote was counted.”

There were other complaints as well.

“The ballot could be confusing for some new voters,” said Theresa Finnegan, 42, an office worker, who worried that new voters or seniors could easily make a mistake.