How Did Sandy Affect New York Voters?

MTV News spoke to voters in Sandy-effected areas to find out how their vote went today.

MTV News asked colleagues and their friends to send us their stories from the New York/New Jersey area affected by superstorm Sandy. We’ve gathered some of them here for you as part of our coverage of tonight’s election.

We’ll also be on the ground in Chicago, Boston and New York to give you updates throughout the night, but for now, here are some tales from the polls.

Kim Reynolds, 29, executive assistant, Astoria, New York: “Astoria was largely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy, so I was not expecting any trouble voting,” said Reynolds. “There was a modest line to get into the elementary school, but nothing out of the ordinary. After five minutes of waiting outside, they ushered around 50 of us into an auditorium where we were told to sit until further notice. Everyone was confused as to why we were being held there and not being let into the gymnasium to vote.”

Poll workers explained to Reynolds that the school was overwhelmed with twice the normal amount of voters because another location in Astoria had been closed due to Sandy, meaning those in the auditorium would have to wait at least an hour. “Potential voters started to get up and leave only to be begged by poll workers to wait it out,” she said. “Many of those who left said they had to get to work, including an EMT who was late for her shift. There was screaming … At 9:15 a.m. we were finally released from the auditorium and let into the gymnasium to vote … As I left the school, there were hundreds of voters waiting in a line that spanned three city blocks having no idea what awaited them inside. ”

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Ben Stern, 27, social worker, Brooklyn, New York: “I got to my voting site (around 6 a.m.) and there was already a long line to find out what district you were supposed to vote in,” he said. A volunteer first sent him to the wrong district table, but he eventually found the right one, even as some voters were given the wrong ballots several times and had to recast their votes.

Once the workers found Stern’s name, there was confusion over which number had been assigned to him and he was given the wrong one, then the correct one. “I voted, however I am worried that all of the mislabeling might have an effect on my vote,” he said.

James Montgomery, 33, journalist, Queens, New York: “I voted absentee Monday morning at the Brooklyn Board of Elections downtown … a process that was long, a bit
confusing and occasionally ugly … Just like democracy itself!” he said.

Montgomery waited an hour in line before filling out an absentee request form with a borrowed pen (since the office was out of them), then sent to a holding area where he had to wait for his name to be called. “Finally, my name was called, and I was taken to a storage closet to cast my ballot,” he said. “I handed it in to a poll worker and was done … All in about three hours … I headed home, knowing in some small way, I did my part. Too bad I didn’t get one of those ‘I Voted’ stickers. Much like pens, they were out of them.”

Brian Phares, 25, producer, New York, New York: After missing the voter registration deadline in 2008, Phares was determined to do things right this year, making sure to send his registration form in on time. “People were frustrated, the place was overstaffed and overwhelmed, and even those who had been voting their entire lives were commenting on how confusing the whole thing was,” he said. “Finally, after waiting nearly 45 minutes, I stepped up to the table of District 32 and waited to be given my first ballot,” he said. “But … my name wasn’t on the list. The flustered poll worker shrugged her shoulders and told me to fill out an affidavit. I asked her if this meant I wasn’t registered, she told me she had no way of knowing. ‘If I submit this affidavit and I’m not registered, will my vote still count?’ I asked. ‘No,’ she replied.”

Stick with MTV News all Election Day for results, analysis and reports from Chicago, Boston and New York until a winner is declared. Share your voting stories by tweeting @MTVNews with the hashtags #GoVote or #IVoted!

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