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5 of 6 Ballot Scanners Broken at UES Polling Site, Causing Hourslong Wait

By Shaye Weaver | November 8, 2016 3:35pm
 Voters waited in line between one and two hours Tuesday morning outside the Yorkville Community School.
Voters waited in line between one and two hours Tuesday morning outside the Yorkville Community School.
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DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

YORKVILLE — The majority of ballot scanners at a local polling site were broken throughout the day Tuesday, causing hourslong waits for voters lined up around the block.

The six scanners at the Yorkville Community School on East 88th Street kept breaking down, and poll workers had to call their technician at least four times, staffers said. By 1 p.m., five of the six machines had malfunctioned, they said.

"Every time [technician would] leave, they'd break down," said monitor Gail Marcos. "We had to go to emergency paper ballots. They will all be counted."

At 2 p.m., Val Coleman, 56, said she had been waiting more than two hours and still hadn't even made it to the entrance, but was determined to stay put.

"It's disappointing because people might be leaving without voting," she said. "But I want my vote to be counted."

The turnout for this election was "exceptional," poll workers said, with the line to vote snaking east to York Avenue and then west on East 89th Street until the late afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, Lisa Durels said she got in line at 9:36 a.m. and didn't reach the school's entrance until 10:44 a.m. She finally finished voting at 11 a.m., but said she didn't mind the wait, considering the historic significance of this election.

"This one matters," she said. "I've never felt this way before."

Another woman, who didn't want to be named, said she came from working overnight and was unsure she'd stick around because the line was so long and she had work again Tuesday night.

But many residents stuck with it.

"I cleared my calendar for the day. It should be a federal holiday," 31-year-old local resident Evan Fein said. "I'm glad it's going to be over. Everyone is feeling a lot of anxiety. It's been the longest election season."

Related Reading:

► Voters Face Long Lines and Delays at Polls Across the City

► Here Are Some of the Problems New Yorkers Are Seeing at the Polls

► What To Do If You're Told You Can't Vote on Election Day

► Here's Why New York Doesn't Have Early Voting

Seniors and disabled residents, who were taken out of the long line and told to form their own line to shorten their wait time, said the queue during this election was unprecedented. 

"I've never waited so long in the 30 years that I've voted at this place," said retired nurse Gail Donath. "I'd walk in and be done within 15 minutes. If it wasn't for the fact that I don't want d--khead in...there's no way I'm leaving. It's too important. I'd wait three hours."

Local Councilman Dan Garodnick showed up at the school after hearing reports of the wait and the issues with the scanners.

"It is totally unacceptable for any New Yorker to wait this amount of time to exercise their right to vote," he told DNAinfo New York. "People have been showing enormous patience and restraint, although they are obviously very frustrated.

"If there ever was a case for early voting, this is it."