Low voter turnout midway through primary election

Low voter turnout midway through primary election
Photo by Carlotta Mohamed
By TimesLedger Staff

LeFrak voters sparse at old polling site

The new polling site within LeFrak City’s library at 98-30 57th Ave. drew fewer than 90 voters in the first half of the state’s Democratic primary.

Residents fought to keep their polling site — which is located in the Continental Room of the complex — when the city’s Board of Elections announced in October 2017 the five election districts would have to vote at a location south of the Long Island Expressway.

The 6,000 mostly minority and elderly residents who utilize the site would have been forced to go three-quarters of a mile to vote. The New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the residents.

Jose Suci, a LeFrak City resident, said the attitude of President Donald Trump brought him to the polls to vote Democrat as he has for decades.

“When [the hurricane] in Puerto Rico went down, he didn’t even know Puerto Rico was part of the United States,” Suci said. “My father and my grandfather have all been Democrats… right now we’re voting for the best of the two and to me the one I voted for was the one.”

On the ballot at this location was U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and his opponent Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

— Mark Hallum

Low turnout in Astoria for Maloney/Patel primary

Poll workers at PS 17 — located at 28-27 29th St. in Astoria — had a lot of time on their hands due to the minimal voter turnout in the western Queens neighborhood.

Poll coordinator Sarah Jonker-Burke said there had been a total of 60 public voters who came to cast their ballots in the school gymnasium as of 2 p.m.

“Because it’s a Democratic primary there are not as many people out today,” Jonker-Burke said. “It’s important to show the people who are running that we care about what they’re doing.”

As she walked out of the gymnasium, Adele Bomser, 81, said she voted for U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) in the Democratic primary against Suraj Patel to represent District 12.

“Always Carolyn Maloney, because she’s great,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sarah Lyons, 25, said she’s neither a Republican or Democrat but she’s supporting Patel.

“I don’t agree with his opposition vote for the 1994 Crime Bill and I don’t support her (Maloney’s) stance on ICE,” said Lyons. “We need to abolish institutions like ICE and implement more caring policies for all Americans and all people.”

Although Lyons has issues with both parties, she said in a primary election people have the ability to shift the tone of a party, even while disagreeing with it.

Just one block away, people trickled in to the gymnasium at PS 234 —located at 30-15 29th St. — as kids filled the hallways on the last day of school.

“We’ve had 296 voters between 6 a.m. and noon,” poll coordinator Robert Moratti said. “We’re not as busy since it’s lunch time, but we expect to see more people coming later in the evening.”

One voter, Michelle, who didn’t want to disclose her last name, said “infrastructure and immigration issues” bought her to the polls today.

— Carlotta Mohamed

Trump distracts from local primaries

The three-way race between U.S. Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica), entrepreneur Mizan Choudhury and Iraqi war veteran/detective Carl Achille for the 5th Congressional District brought in only 106 voters to the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans.

The center, located at 172-17 Linden Blvd., mostly had drawn middle-aged to senior voters by 2 p.m., according to poll workers.

“It’s been slow all day,” said Ricardo Louis, who has been a poll worker for four years. “Nobody really knew about the election. Those that came are the elderly, and usually home all day so they knew, but maybe there might be a bump at 5 p.m. I myself didn’t find out about the race until last week. We’ve got to do better as far as advertising it.”

Claude Dorisca, Louis’ brother, believes the political coverage of President Donald Trump has been a distraction for the local races.

“People have been distracted by his antics,” he said.

Ethel Sanders, a poll worker since 1995, agreed.

“He’s an expert in trying to get attention,” Sanders said.

Adelaide Jacquet believes all the political coverage went to the borough’s top Democrat, House Democratic Caucus and Chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who is running against community organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“When they talk about Queens, they only talked about Crowley. It’s like Meeks or his challengers didn’t exist,” Jacquet said.

Paulette Atkins, another poll worker, believes switching the primary for congressional races to June from September is to blame for low turnout.

“Voter turnout is usually good around here, but that was when the congressional primary was in September,” Atkins said..

— Naeisha Rose

Poll worker: Half of SE Queens voters unaware of primary

Meanwhile, over the course of more than six hours only 103 constituents came to PS 34 in Queens Village to vote for a representative in New York’s 5th Congressional District, according to poll workers.

“There was an older crowd today and middle-aged people,” according to the program coordinator located at 104-12 Springfield Blvd.

Krishna Tamakuwala, a helper with the scanning machine, saw mostly people ranging in age from their 40s to 80s come out to vote, and fewer than 10 people under 40 show up by 12:45 p.m. Voting in the district started at 6 a.m.

“A lot of people didn’t know that there was an election,” said Barbara Thompson, who has been a poll worker for roughly 15 years. “Not enough advertisement. I always work the polls and I didn’t hear anything about debates.”

In an interview with TimesLedger, Choudhury said he worked on setting up a debate with incumbent Meeks, but in the 11th hour the representative for the 5th District said he had to drop out for a meeting in Washington, D.C..

“Half the people in the district didn’t know there was an election today, and probably thought it was in November,” said Thompson.

— Naeisha Rose