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Photos: Naeisha Rose/QNS
Leroy Gadsden, the president of the Jamaica branch of the NAACP

Voters were shoulder to shoulder at P.S. 34 as they tried to cast their ballot in Queens Village on Election Day.

Despite heavy rainfall, the gymnasium at the elementary school located at 104-12 Springfield Blvd. was crowded on Nov. 6. By 10:30 a.m., as many as 1,346 citizens had already voted — and hundreds more were waiting on long lines.

The school was packed since it opened at 6 a.m. according to Bidya Nauth, the poll site coordinator. Mostly seniors came at that time, but more middle-aged folks and a few young people came in the morning.

 

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For every young person that came in the morning, there were at least 50 middle-aged or senior folks, according to Nauth. The poll site was so packed at 6:30 a.m. some voters had to sit in the school cafeteria for 10 to 20 minutes until there was enough space in the gymnasium.

“All types of people came out here, but the younger folks go to work or school first and usually come around 6 p.m.,” said to Nauth. “School and jobs come first.”

 

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There were so many voters in the early morning that three machines were jammed by ballots, according to Nauth.

At the poll sites, there were seniors with canes and walkers flowing into the school, a nun from the local convent, middle-aged women with hijabs, and some West Indian parents with their children in tow. There were also Spanish and Haitian Creole interpreters at the site ready to help voters who struggled with understanding the ballot.

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President Donald Trump was on the minds of many voters this year.

“I came out to vote because I want to have a good president,” said Eldonna Thomas of Queens Village.

Kettly Roche from Queens Village was more explicit about her goal for voting.

 

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“To control Trump,” said Roche. “That is my reasoning.”

Leroy Gadsden, the president of the Jamaica branch of the NAACP was also at the poll site.

“I’m from St. Albans, but we are all over the place — (the NAACP) has 20 legal observers out today, because historically, poll sites with higher minority turnout have faced attempts to suppress the vote,” said Gadsden. “We come out on Election Day to make sure that everybody is playing fair and playing by the rules.”

Many African-Americans since the dawn of this country’s history have died for the right for the privilege to vote in this democracy, according to Gadsden.

“We just want to make sure that everybody has a right to vote,” said Gadsden. “The Board of Elections makes sure that the machines are working and nobody is being harassed.”

In this neighborhood’s past officers were sent in uniform to intimidate people of color at polling sites, according to Gadsden.

“We just want to make sure the 1965 Voting Rights are protected,” said Gadsden who was proud of the huge number of voters in southeast Queens. “I love it. I’ve been here, St. Albans, and Cambria Heights and people are reporting to me and I love the turnout. This is what democracy is about.”

Today, QNS reporters are at polling sites across Queens reporting on the Election Day turnout. We’ll have more reports as the day progresses. In the meantime, you have until 9 p.m. tonight to vote — so get out there and exercise your right!

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