Western Queens residents marked their ballots on Nov. 8, and whether it was the first time or fifth time voting, they all had a diverse array of issues that mattered deeply to them.
Susan Lynch, a Maspeth resident for five years, voted at P.S. 153 with her 6-year-old daughter who attends the school. Lynch said it “wasn’t even a question” when deciding among the presidential candidates.
“Women’s issues mainly is the biggest one for me [and] equality,” Lynch said. “I’m mostly against what [Donald] Trump represents and he’s setting our nation back so I like the forward thinking of the Democrats and Hillary [Clinton] and moving forward with that agenda.”
Victor Hernandez, a Middle Village resident for 10 years, said the voting process was quick and that there were no issues at P.S. 153 when he cast his ballot. Hernandez, who said his biggest concern was the disappearing middle class, wasn’t excited about either candidate this election.
“For the middle class either you’re poor or you’re rich and there’s no middle class,” Hernandez said. “There’s a big wage gap.”
He described this election as “scary” and ultimately cast his ballot for Hillary Clinton because she has “more experience.”
Astoria resident Guillermo Castro, who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, also said the candidates did not excite him this time around.
“I’m happy-ish [with my decision],” he said. “I’m voting against Trump. I think that’s what I’m doing.”
There were several first-time voters waiting in line to elect the next president. Charles Kollazo, 24, of Middle Village, said he knew fairly early in the election cycle who he wanted to vote for and that the biggest issue influencing his vote was the economy.
Ivelina Velikova, an Astoria resident for 13 years, voted for the first time at P.S. 70, where lines were long.
“[There were] lots of people, lots of confusion,” she said.
Velikova said she was “very excited” to vote, and issues such as foreign affairs, women’s rights, education and immigration influenced her vote.
She, along with her friend and Astoria resident Derek Hall, said they are very glad that the election season is over.
“It’s kinda good that it’s been this ridiculous because it makes people want to vote,” Hall said. “When it’s a circus people at least are more attuned.”
Yasmine Omran moved to Astoria six years ago from Egypt. It’s her first time voting and said the experience is much easier in America than it is in Egypt.
“[It was] so easy [to vote],” Omran said. “In Egypt it takes time [and there are] long lines and [it] takes time for results — two days, maybe. You don’t [know if] the vote [you cast] is correct or [if] somebody changed it.”
She said some citizens in Egypt are disillusioned by the voting process there and decide not to vote because they are worried that government officials may change it.
Astoria resident Makana Shimaoka said the voting process at P.S. 70 in Astoria was hectic and disorganized.
“The lines weren’t long, but it was very disorganized,” she said. “I was told to go to the table for the wrong election district, so I had to fill out an affidavit ballot.”
Shimaoka advised voters to go to their voting site knowing their election district number to avoid lines and confusion.
“All in all, I felt proud to be amongst my fellow Americans and voting for our future,” she said.