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Upper West Side Voters Encounter Long Lines on Election Day

By Emily Frost | November 6, 2012 1:47pm | Updated on November 6, 2012 1:54pm

UPPER WEST SIDE — Voters and poll workers expected a high voter turnout on the Upper West Side Tuesday, despite unusually long lines that were attributed to redrawn district lines which in turn led to confusion over where to vote.  

The voting line at P.S. 87 was an hour long by midday, according to Victoria Gonzalez, 49, a poll worker who had another volunteer time the wait. 

"Everyone from this neighborhood is saying this is incredible and they've never seen lines like this," said Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez attributed the lines to redistricting and said "only half of the people in line got a piece of paper in the mail telling them where to vote," which meant many returned to the place they've historically voted.

"We've had people here who've said 'we've always voted here' and just came here," she said. 

Others reported waiting in line at the wrong site for half an hour or more. 

"A handful of people have gotten out of line and said we'll come back, but most people just waited," said Gonzalez.

Tensions were higher at P.S. 9 on West 84th Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues. A poll worker who did not want to give her name said: "Things are not going well." 

Amy Goehner, who is in her late 50s, said it took her an hour and a half to vote at P.S. 9. 

"This is ridiculous. It took way longer and was way less organized [compared to four years ago.]"

Another voter named Terry said she'd never seen a situation so chaotic at P.S. 9. 

"The whole time I heard people saying 'where should I go?' The lines were disorganized," she said.

Harris Yulin, 75, said people were good humored but it was "chaos" and that "no one is creating order." He said he found the disorganization unprecedented: "I've never seen it like that."

Phyllis Goodfriend, 74, worried that the electronic ballots used this year might be to blame for the long wait. John Dexter, 66, cast his vote early at Hamilton House on West 73rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam and said it went smoothly but that he felt anxious about the reliability of the electronic machines, which have been used in previous elections in New York City, but never for a presidential election.

P.S. 87 poll worker Sharon Stacey said that by 5:45 a.m. there was already a line outside the school. The polls officially opened at 6 a.m. Stacey, from Harlem, arrived at the school at 4:45 a.m. and expected to stay until at least an hour after the polls close Tuesday at 9 p.m. 

"The President gets me through [the day]," she said. 

Stacey said she thought turnout was already greater than four years ago.

At P.S. 87, cold voters refueled at a bake sale run by parents, and the proceeds would all go to support Hurricane Sandy victims. A student volunteering for the bake sale canvassed the line taking coffee orders from those waiting. 

"A lot of people are giving $10 and not asking for change," said parent bake sale organizer Elizabeth Ayvazian, who said that after two hours they'd made $350.