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UWS Polling-Site Changes Confuse and 'Sabotage' Voters, Locals Say

By Emily Frost | April 19, 2016 1:50pm | Updated on April 19, 2016 1:56pm
 Many voters did not know that their polling site had changed Tuesday.
Voters Confused by Polling-Site Changes
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Voters who have gone to the same polling sites for decades turned up at their usual voting locations Tuesday baffled to learn they had to head elsewhere to cast a ballot in the presidential primary — and in some cases given conflicting information on where to go.

The Board of Elections moved several longtime voting sites in the neighborhood, but many voters were unaware of the change, they said.

"I was expecting to vote," said Sarah, 77, who'd been going to P.S. 9 on West 84th Street, one of the longtime neighborhood polling sites that the BOE moved, for 40 years.

Sarah, who declined to provide her last name, said she was both "surprised" and "annoyed" by how difficult the process of voting was Tuesday.

Moving polling locations after so long felt like an unnecessary hurdle to the democratic process, she said.

"It's sabotage," she added.

A stream of people came by the school building Tuesday morning puzzled to find hand-written signs notifying them of the change that bore no official BOE stamp. 

"I'm surprised they didn't send any paper or anything... they never told me," said Delia Debrosse, 89, who also came out to P.S. 9 to vote. 

Debrosse said she'd been voting at P.S. 9 for 30 years. 

Voters who came to the elementary school were directed via multiple signs to walk up a block to the back entrance of the Brandeis High School complex on West 85th Street to vote.

► READ MORE: How to Find Your Polling Place for the April 19 Primary

Farther uptown, some signs indicated that voters had much more of a walk to their new polling sites. 

At the entrance to P.S. 84 on West 92nd Street — another longtime polling site that had been relocated — two hand-written signs told voters to instead head to P.S. 163 on West 97th Street.

But along a fence at P.S. 84, signs with official BOE language instructed voters to go to the Central Baptist Church of NYC at West 92nd and Amsterdam Avenue. 

The discrepancy between the signs created even more confusion among voters who had showed up at P.S. 84. 

Clare Lazar, 88, had received a letter from the BOE in the mail telling her that her polling site had been moved to P.S. 166 — not to P.S. 163 nor the Central Baptist Church of NYC — from her usual voting site at P.S. 84.

"I voted in this place for 58 years," Lazar said of coming to P.S. 84. 

She was surprised by the signs telling voters to go all the way up to P.S. 163. 

"That's a shame. I can't believe it," she said. 

Other voters huddled around the signs and conferred about what they should do: walk to the Central Baptist Church of NYC first, or go to P.S. 163. 

One voter simply abandoned her plan to vote in the late morning and said she'd come back later. 

At other sites that had not changed, other issues cropped up. 

Electa Arenal de Rodriguez said she'd been voting at P.S. 87 since 1966 but that election workers couldn't find her name on the roster. 

She was disappointed not to vote but was given an affidavit ballot envelope, which she said she'd fill out. 

"There was no explanation" for her name not appearing on the voter roll, she said.

"It's not experts working there."

The Board of Elections did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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