By TimesLedger Staff
Turnout varied widely at polling places across the borough Tuesday as voters cast their ballots for candidates running in four congressional races and one U.S. Senate contest.
Based on spot checks by TimesLedger Newspapers staffers, voting was light at polling stations in Middle Village and Ridgewood but high in Fresh Meadows and Flushing in a closely watched race that would determine if state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) or Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman would become the Democratic primary candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat that U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) is giving up.
“They haven’t stopped coming,” said coordinator Chung Chen, who was overseeing operations at the New York Taiwan Center on Northern Boulevard.
By 10 a.m., about 50 people had voted at his station.
Yet in the same time, a coordinator at Grover Cleveland High School on Himrod Street, a polling place for the same race, said it had only gotten five voters.
“Low turnout is not unusual in a primary,” she said. “But this seems extra slow.”
The race ended up going to Meng.
The timing for Tuesday’s primary was unusual. New York’s congressional primaries have been held in September since the 1970s, and some districts underwent major geographic changes when they were redrawn earlier this year due to the elimination of two House of Representatives seats for New York. Some residents from Douglaston Manor hoping to vote in Ackerman’s old district found themselves turned away at the polls since the do not live in his district anymore.
Translators were kept busy as several Chinese residents came out to cast their vote. On Barclay Street near PS 20 in Flushing, a woman by the door called out “Chinese interpreter please!” every few minutes to aid any voters who required assistance.
Elsewhere, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) easily bested his challengers — ex-Councilman Allan Jennings, accountant Joseph Marthone and artist Mike Scala — in his new southeast Queens-based district.
In parts of Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, voters re-elected Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Ridgewood) as the Democratic nominee over Councilman Erik Dilan (D-Brooklyn) and activist George Martinez.
At PS 81, at 599 Cypress Ave. in Ridgewood, voter Vivian Estes saw no reason to elect a new representative after 20 years.
“She knows the area, she knows the people. She just knows what she’s doing,” Estes said. “It might be dangerous to put someone new in there right now with jobs and the economy in such bad shape.”
In the race for U.S. Rep. Ed Towns’ (D-Brooklyn) seat, which was redrawn to include Lindenwood and Howard Beach, Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) saw a late surge of support but Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) won.
Republicans across the borough, meanwhile, had the choice of whether U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) general election opponent would be U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village), Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos or lawyer Wendy Long, who ended up taking the race.