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Redistricting, Not Sandy, Sparks Brooklyn Voter Confusion

By Meredith Hoffman | November 6, 2012 10:33am

WILLIAMSBURG — Their voting destinations may have been better off than the dark tents in post-hurricane Staten Island Tuesday morning, but some North Brooklyn voters faced their own struggle on election day — uncertainty over where to cast their ballots.

While the rest of the city's polling sites were thrown into chaos because of storm damage, some Brooklyn voters were assigned different polling sites for this election due to district lines that were redrawn earlier this year.

The change led to confusion.

At 260 Powers Street, Raquel Munante, 86, who had limped from home with an injured knee at 6:30 a.m., was nervous she had come to the wrong spot.

"I want to know if I can vote here or not," she said in Spanish at her usual site, "since they changed the zones."

The poll workers told Munante, a Peruvian native who spoke little English and said she had just left the hospital Sunday after a leg operation, that her poll site had indeed been changed.

She began to cry that the other site was too far for her to walk there.

But, with new rules in place in Sandy's aftermath, the workers were able to give her a paper affidavit ballot that a Board of Elections spokeswoman said would count.

"There have been a lot of allotments after Hurricane Sandy," the spokeswoman said, noting that such an affidavit ballot would not have counted in past elections. 

"God has helped me," Munante said when she learned she could still vote, and noted she would cast her ballot for President Barack Obama because "the Republicans don't understand Spanish."

As other voters rushed to polls throughout the neighborhood, many double checked their voting sites because "everything is a mess" after the hurricane, as one voter who declined to give his name said.

Even those Williamsburg residents who successfully showed up at the right voting spots said they still fretted about the election going smoothly around the city.

"It's going to be tight and I want my man to win," said Luis Garcia, 55, of Obama, but said he worried the affidavit votes would not count in the election. "It's a little spooky, I'm worried something will go wrong."

Still, many North Brooklynites were more focused on the day's end result than local snafus.

"The country's a mess, it's not going in the right direction," said Marie, 80, who declined to give her last name and said she voted for Mitt Romney. "I think it [the hurricane] makes people want to vote more."