Queens casts its vote

TimesLedger Staff

Queens voters, enthusiastic about being relevant at the polls once again, cast their votes in large numbers for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump in the most contested presidential primary in decades.

Based on a spot check of polling sites across the borough by TimesLedger Newspapers, voting was heavy in Sunnyside, Hollis and Astoria Tuesday as a steady stream of voters circled their ballots in Bayside and Jamaica.

At the polling site at Hillcrest Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows, Annam Malik said it had been busier than in other primaries.

“The youth vote—I heard about it on the news,” she said. “But now I’m actually seeing it.”

When final numbers on turnout are calculated, Clinton was expected to have drawn about 61 percent of the Democratic vote in Queens vs. nearly 40 percent for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with support topping 75 percent for the former New York senator in southeast Queens. Sanders scored in the Rockaways, Astoria and Ridgewood.

On the GOP side, Queens native Trump swept an estimated 68 percent of the borough’s vote, raising questions about the political futures of both Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (18 percent) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (14 percent) as the primary battle wears on.

Up for grabs in New York state were 247 Democratic delegates and 95 Republican delegates.

There were some glitches at the Queens polls, but major irregularities in the other boroughs prompted Comptroller Scott Stringer to announce he would audit the city Board of Elections. Some 125,000 registered Democratic were inexplicably dropped from the rolls in Brooklyn between November and Primary Day.

“The people of New York City have lost confidence that the Board of Elections can effectively administer elections and we intend to find out why the Board of Elections is so consistently disorganized, chaotic and inefficient,” Stringer said in a statement.

In Astoria at PS 85, veteran precinct coordinator Loretta Csikortos found herself swamped when more than 1,100 voters showed up before 11 a.m. She was shorthanded because 14 poll workers had failed to report for duty.

“If it’s like this on Election Day, they just better shut this one down,” she said. “We’re really juggling here.”

Astoria voter Chris Escandon, 24, works around the corner from PS 85 and was hoping he could vote by affidavit. But he was told his vote might not be counted.

“I’d rather vote at home and make sure it counts because this is such a pivotal moment for the country,” he said. “We have no idea where we are headed.”

A Flushing woman could not find her name in the book at one polling site even though her family had not moved. She was directed to fill out an affidavit, which allowed her to vote.

Many voters in Queens were looking for change as they marked their ballots for Trump or Sanders, while others said they voted for Hillary and sometimes Kasich because of their proven track records. Wall Street, money, the economy, middle class struggles and illegal immigration were recurring themes.

Confusion reigned at some polling spots in Queens when independent voters tried to cast their ballots and others wanted to switch their party affiliations just to vote in Tuesday’s primary. Under New York election law, only people registered with a party can vote in that party’s primary, which leaves independents without a vote. To change parties a voter had to have registered by Oct. 9, 2015.

The Board of Elections did not mail out the standard voter cards about polling sites and voting hours for the primary, annoying some voters. But after filling out their ballots, voters were issued little stickies to indicate they had done their civic duty and a flurry of paper circles began appearing on Facebook pages.

Patrick Donachie, Mark Hallum, Bill Parry and Madina Toure contributed to this report

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