POLLS OPEN: Queens voters cast their ballot on Election Day

(Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Polling places are officially open as of 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 8, giving voters in Queens and throughout New York City a chance to vote in the all-important midterm elections for control of the governor’s mansion, the state Legislature and Congress.

Polls will be open until 9 p.m. Tuesday night.

Topping the Election Day contests is the heated governor’s race between Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul and Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin. Recent polls have suggested the race is much tighter than originally anticipated; Real Clear Politics estimated that going into Election Day, Hochul had averaged a 7-point lead in surveys.

Two other statewide officials are also on the ballot: Democratic Attorney General Letitia James is seeking another four-year term in office against Republican Michael Henry, and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is looking to fend off a challenge from Republican Paul Rodriguez.

All of New York state’s 26 Congressional seats are also up for grabs.

Voters will also choose their Assembly and state Senate representative, and fill several judicial seats. And don’t forget to flip your ballot: there are four questions to answer.

In Queens, several incumbents are running unopposed, but there still may be some closely contested races. See who is on the ballot below.

Part of eastern Queens is voting in the hotly contested Third Congressional District race, where Democrat Robert Zimmerman and Republican George Santos are looking to succeed the outgoing Tom Suozzi on Capitol Hill.

For coverage of statewide and citywide races, visit amNY.com and PoliticsNY.com.

QNS will keep you updated on the Queens races throughout Election Day.

As of 10 a.m., approximately 100 voters cast their ballots at the Sebastian Parish Center, located at 39-60 57th St., in Woodside.

According to the poll site coordinator, 13 ballots were cast by 7 a.m. and, by 8 a.m., a line had formed outside of the center’s door as people waited to vote.

Voters fill in their ballots at the Sebastian Parish Center polling site in Woodside. (Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

One voter, who declined to give her name, told QNS she showed up to the polls to vote since women’s rights are in jeopardy.

“I’m worried about losing my rights and other women’s rights to an abortion,” she said. “I was feeling a little scared hearing the numbers that Republicans might take over the government, and then you have the governor’s race here in New York. I feel it’s my duty much more strongly than before.”

Mia Boday said she votes in every election because it’s her civic duty.

“I gotta go to every election. All elections are important,” Boday said. “There is misinformation out there and our democracy is under threat and it’s our right to a fair election that must be exercised.”

Mia Boday proudly shows her ‘I Voted’ sticker after casting her ballot at the Sebastian Parish Center in Woodside. (Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

According to the poll site workers, there haven’t been any issues with the ballots and voters are aware of the four proposals on the back of the ballot.

However, according to one poll site worker, voters may not be aware that their polling site in the area has changed. Outside of St. Sebastian Catholic Academy, a sign was placed outside the door notifying people of the new polling site at the Parish Center.

Meanwhile, a few blocks down at P.S. 11Q, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave., about 274 ballots were cast by around 9 a.m. in the school cafeteria.

While waiting in line, one voter, who declined to give his name, told QNS he came out today due to the issues of inflation and crime on the subway.

“I take the subway to work and it’s ridiculous now with the attacks that are happening,” he said. “Also, people ask for money — they have raised their price now asking for $5, can you believe it?”

Kathleen Lubey told QNS she wanted to vote for candidates in favor of women’s rights.

“I came out today because women should have a right to an abortion,” Lubey said. “It’s also keeping a Democratic governor in our state, and I voted for the cost of living proposal on the back of the ballot.”

Kathleen Lubey said she felt obligated to come out and vote for women’s rights. (Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

According to Lubey, the overall goal is to staunchly oppose the Republican agenda.

As voters made their way into the cafeteria, a line was formed around the voting booths. One person questioned the long wait, while others weren’t sure which line to join.

When asked whether there were any issues pertaining to the ballots and machines, a poll site worker said the only issue they had is being short staffed.

“We had to add another person to keep the line moving,” he said. “We also don’t have a Chinese and Spanish interpreter. This is a big community with a lot of Spanish speakers.”

Meanwhile, at P.S. 146 in Howard Beach, more than 200 ballots had been cast by 9 a.m., with a steady stream of voters coming in. One poll worker told QNS that there were people waiting in line before the site opened.

Voters cast their ballots at the P.S. 146 voting site in Howard Beach. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Melissa Casper, 41, brought her 7-year-old son and said her No. 1 priority was showing him what voting was about.

“I’ve always brought my kids,” Casper said. “I have an older son and I think it’s important for them to learn from now that you can make a change.”

At P.S. 207 in Howard Beach, more than 400 ballots were cast by 9:50 a.m., according to a poll worker on site.

Voters cast their ballots at the P.S. 207 voting site in Howard Beach. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Voter Jessica Salinas said she came out to vote “to make sure that we’re safe.”

“I feel like we’re not [safe],” Salinas said. “I don’t feel comfortable going places, many places outside of the neighborhood, so that’s my biggest issue. I’m going with safety first.”

Astoria voter Catherine Prunella voted with abortion rights on her mind. (Photo by Julia Moro)

In Astoria, voters trickled into the P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst polling place to cast their ballots. In northwestern Queens, residents are mainly concerned about crime and abortion. 

Astoria resident, Catherine Prunella, said she was thinking about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade as she cast her ballot. She voted for Kathy Hochul for governor, not because she feels passionately about her as a candidate, but because she was unhappy with Lee Zeldin’s messaging surrounding abortion rights. 

“I was very influenced on Zeldin’s stance on abortion,” Prunella said. “I have my issues with Hochul; I didn’t elect her in the first place, but Roe was huge this election cycle.”

Another voter, who wished to remain anonymous, said this was her first time voting in 20 years. She only cast her vote for one candidate: Zeldin. 

“I’ve lived in the city forever and I’ve just never seen crime be this upsetting to me,” she said. “A change is good. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again that’s the definition of insanity, so why not have some change?”

A volunteer at the P.S. 171 Peter G. Van Alst polling place, Olga Larino, said she was also very concerned about crime in New York, and that she voted for Hochul. 

“You’re always hearing about a shooting or stabbing somewhere,” Larino said. “This country has been wronged by a lot of Republicans.”

Olga Larino cares about abortion, crime and accessible subway stations. (Photo by Julia Moro)

Prunella said she voted in favor of the Proposal Number 3 to establish a Racial Equity Office, Plan and Commission. However, she is skeptical about the substantive change it would make. 

“Knowing what I know about the government, we’ll see what actually happens with that,” Prunella said. “But, I definitely like the spirit of it and paradigm shifts can be really incremental and sometimes an office can help.”

On the other side of Queens, Bayside residents were showing up in droves at P.S. 169 and Bayside High School to cast their votes. In addition to voting among candidates for several positions, voters also decided whether or not they approved of each of the four proposals on the ballot.

“I think this is a very important election, especially for governor,” said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, who is up for re-election. “The governor is the top position in the state. I feel over the past few days, I’ve noticed more enthusiasm for the Democratic nominees. As far as myself and other nominees [for other positions] like Robert Zimmerman, we’ve run strong campaigns, talking about the issues that voters care about and I’m confident about our prospects.”

Voters cast their ballots at P.S. 169 in Bayside. (Photo by Ethan Marshall)

While there were certainly some voters who wanted to keep many of the incumbents in office to continue their work, there are also others who would like to see a change. For many voters, policies like bail reform, abortion, crime and the local economy factored heavily into who they decided to vote for.

“This is the most important election yet [to the community,” Bayside resident Dragica Jukic said. “I hope there ends up being a bigger voter turnout [than in recent midterm elections]. If you lose democracy, you lose everything. I would like to see the Senate continue what they started doing over the last two years.”

While voter turnout had been relatively high early Tuesday morning at P.S. 169 and Bayside High School, not all voters were optimistic about effective leadership coming from either party. One voter, who declined to give their name, felt this election was no more important than in any other year. Still, he emphasized that it is still important to vote this year in order to hopefully make a positive impact on the community.

“For me, the biggest factor in how I voted was in regards to letting judges keep dangerous people who could be menaces to society off the streets,” the voter said. “I voted against the [racial equity proposal] because I believe that once you start putting certain people ahead of others, that’s a slippery slope. Once you start elevating one group above another, when does it end?”

According to this voter, while he initially intended to vote for Kathy Hochul as governor, he became dissuaded from doing so after hearing her give too many blasé answers to questions and concerns expressed to her. However, he still expressed confidence in Chuck Schumer as senator, praising the work he’s done during and after the pandemic. Despite mostly leaning toward Republicans in local elections, he emphasized a desire that they avoid Trumpism.

Another voter, John Reiser, also placed emphasis on crime and bail reform as issues that helped determine how he voted. As a former corrections officer and city employee, Reiser said it’s fine to make it easier for those locked up for nonviolent offenses like marijuana possession to be let go, but also stated the importance of allowing judges to keep those who pose a danger to others and, in some cases, themselves, to be kept incarcerated as they await their trials.

According to Reiser, the bail reform decreased the amount of people in county jails across the city from around 20,000 to about 3,000.

“Crime goes hand-in-hand with the bail reform,” Reiser said. “That was the biggest, dumbest idea. I also think cops aren’t making the same amount of quality arrests that they used to. It feels like they’re arresting more guys jumping tolls instead of getting murderers. The quality of life is going down.”

Voters cast their ballots at the 711 Seagirt Ave. voting site in Far Rockaway. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

The polling site at 711 Seagirt Ave., a small location with about five booths, reported that approximately 150 ballots were cast as of 1 p.m.

Elinda Tolson-Palmer, 65, told QNS that she is voting because “democracy is on the line.”

“All these lies — big lies — are invading our democracy, so you want to vote for people who will be for the people and not just for the rich and famous,” Tolson-Palmer said. “Democracy is on the line for all.”

Elinda Tolson-Palmer, 65, poses for a photo after voting at the 711 Seagirt Ave. voting site in Far Rockaway. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Meanwhile, P.S. 215 was one of the busiest polling sites in Far Rockaway, with nearly 500 ballots cast as of 1:30 p.m.

The polling site coordinator told QNS that there has been a steady stream of voters all day.

Voters cast their ballots at P.S. 153 in Maspeth. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

In Maspeth, Susan, a polling coordinator who declined to give her last name, told QNS that about 500 people have voted at P.S. 153 as of 2 p.m.

“It has been very busy,” Susan said. “I’ve been working these votes for years. We’ve never had a turnout like this. Only when Trump and Obama ran.”

She is expecting even more voters to arrive once people get off work.

Interpretors Brenda Alvarez and Wing Yen were on hand to support voters at P.S. 153 in Maspeth. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

“In the morning, we usually get a couple of people who are nurses, like people who work early in the morning,” Susan said.

Spanish interpreter Brenda Alavarez has already helped 12 voters understand their ballots.

“I’ve done this a couple of times before,” Alvarez said. “But I’ve never helped anybody like today.”

According to poll workers, turnout at Maspeth High School has been slow throughout out day. About 220 voters cast their votes between 6 a.m. and the middle of the afternoon. Because of redistricting, some voters were sent to nearby Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

Voters pick up their ballots at Our Lady of Hope Catholic School in Middle Village. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

The polling site at our Lady of Hope polling site was buzzing in the late afternoon, and according to polling site supervisor Robert Grant, turnout was “moderate to heavy.”

Another poll worker shared that about people had lined up at the polling site before it opened at 6 a.m. and that turnout was heavier than during the presidential election.

Who’s on the ballot?

Assembly districts:

23rd: Stacey G. Pheffer Amato (Democrat), Thomas P. Sullivan (Republican)

24th: David I. Weprin (Democrat)

25th: Nily D. Rozic (Democrat), Seth Breland (Republican)

26th: Edward C. Braunstein (Democrat), Robert J. Speranza (Republican)

27th: Daniel Rosenthal (Democrat), Angelo King (Republican)

28th: Andrew D. Hevesi (Democrat), Michael Conigliaro (Republican)

29th: Alicia L. Hyndman (Democrat)

30th: Steven B. Raga (Democrat), Sean S. Lally (Republican)

31st: Khaleel M. Anderson (Democrat)

32nd: Vivian E. Cook (Democrat), Marilyn Miller (Republican), Anthony D. Andrews Jr. (Working Families)

33rd: Clyde Vanel (Democrat)

34th: Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (Democrat)

35th: Jeffrion L. Aubry (Democrat)

36th: Zohran Mamdani (Democrat)

37th: Juan Ardila (Democrat)

38th: Jenifer Rajkumar (Democrat)

39th: Catalina Cruz (Democrat)

40th: Ron Kim (Democrat), Sharon A. Liao (Republican)

Congressional districts:

Third: Robert P. Zimmerman (Democrat), George A.D. Santos (Republican)

Fifth: Gregory W. Meeks (Democrat), Paul King (Republican)

Sixth: Grace Meng (Democrat), Thomas J. Zmich (Republican)

Seventh: Nydia M. Velazquez (Democrat), Juan Pagan (Republican)

14th: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat), Tina Forte (Republican), Desi Cuellar (Conservative),

Senatorial districts:

10th: James Sanders Jr. (Democrat)

11th: Toby Ann Stavisky (Democrat), Stefano Forte (Republican)

12th: Michael N. Gianaris (Democrat)

13th: Jessica Ramos (Democrat)

14th: Leroy G. Comrie Jr. (Democrat)

15th: Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (Democrat), Danniel S. Maio (Republican)

16th: John C. Liu (Democrat), Ruben D. Cruz II (Republican)

18th: Julia Salazar (Democrat)

19th: Roxanne J. Persaud (Democrat)

59th: Kristen S. Gonzalez (Democrat)

Citywide proposals

Make sure to turn your ballot over, where you will find four proposals regarding the environment, racial justice and more for New Yorkers to have a say on.

Proposal Number 1, an Amendment: CLEAN WATER, CLEAN AIR AND GREEN JOBS Environmental Bond Act of 2022

To address and combat the impact of climate change and damage to the environment, the “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022” authorizes the sale of state bonds up to $4.2 billion to fund environmental protection, natural restoration, resiliency and clean energy projects.

Shall the Environmental Bond Act of 2022 be approved?

Proposal Number 2, a Question: Add a Statement of Values to Guide Government

This proposal would amend the New York City Charter to add a preamble, which would be an introductory statement of values and vision aspiring toward “a just and equitable city for all” New Yorkers, and include in the preamble a statement that the city must strive to remedy “past and continuing harms and to reconstruct, revise and reimagine our foundations, structures, institutions and laws to promote justice and equity for all New Yorkers.” The preamble is intended to guide the city government in fulfilling its duties.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

Proposal Number 3, a Question: Establish a Racial Equity Office, Plan and Commission

This proposal would amend the City Charter to Require citywide and agency-specific Racial Equity Plans every two years. The plans would include intended strategies and goals to improve racial equity and to reduce or eliminate racial disparities. It would also establish an Office of Racial Equity and appoint a chief equity officer to advance racial equity and coordinate the city’s racial equity planning process. The office would support city agencies in improving access to city services and programs for those people and communities who have been negatively affected by previous policies or actions, and collect and report data related to equity. It would establish a Commission on Racial Equity, appointed by city elected officials. In making appointments to this commission, elected officials would be required to consider appointees who are representative of or have experience advocating for a diverse range of communities. The commission would identify and propose priorities to inform the racial equity planning process and review agency and citywide Racial Equity Plans.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

Proposal Number 4, a Question: Measure the True Cost of Living

This proposal would amend the City Charter to require the city to create a “true cost of living” measure to track the actual cost in New York City of meeting essential needs, including housing, food, childcare, transportation and other necessary costs, and without considering public, private or informal assistance, in order to inform programmatic and policy decisions. It would require the city government to report annually on the “true cost of living” measure.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

Find your Election Day polling site here, vote.nyc/site.

This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 8.