Finally, after months of buildup, New York's Primary Day 2018 is here. We're keeping track of how things go for voters, so please send us your tips either by tagging us on Twitter and Instagram with @Gothamist or emailing us at email@example.com.
Polls opened at 6 a.m. in New York City (and on Long Island and in Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Erie, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties—for some reason, the rest of the state's polling sites open at noon!), but, as usual, not all poll sites have their shit together.
UPDATE 6:56 p.m. Photographer Scott Heins captures the scene inside Julia Salazar's campaign headquarters in Bushwick, and took a portrait of the candidate outside of it. Salazar is trying to unseat State Senator Martin Dilan.
(Scott Heins / Gothamist)
(Scott Heins / Gothamist)
UPDATE 6:00 p.m. Our reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler paid a visit to BOE HQ in Downtown Brooklyn this afternoon. Here's his story:
Brooklyn voters who have tried to vote today but have been unable to locate their names in the voting rolls at their voting sites have been directed to the New York City Board of Elections office in downtown Brooklyn at 345 Adams Street to determine where they can vote and if they’re eligible.
Andrea Rose Clark, a graduate student, moved to Brooklyn from Harlem two years ago. Before this election, she tried to change her voter registration to Brooklyn — she went to 345 Adams Street to find out if that had gone through.
“I tried to register online but when I put in my ID number from my driver’s license it kept on saying like ‘no, you don’t exist,’ so I came down here just to make sure and no, it didn’t go through… so if I want to vote, I have to go up to Harlem to my old site,” Clark told Gothamist outside of the Board of Elections office in Brooklyn. “I’ve been in school all day, I’m a little tired. I’m going to force myself.”
Clark said that it was a disappointment that she would have to quickly learn about new local races as opposed to the race between Zellnor Myrie and Jesse Hamilton in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, that she had been following for months.
“I didn’t even educate myself on the Harlem candidates so I’ll just have to go on ‘well this guy has a nice face,’ or ‘this woman seems intelligent,’” she said.
Lawyer Fawziyyah Madyun had a similar experience. After moving from Queens to Brooklyn last year, Madyun had assumed that by changing her address on her driver’s license, her voting site would also have changed. But that wasn’t the case, and after a trip to 345 Adams, Madyun was preparing to head back to Queens to vote.
“I assumed that they would figure this out or be provided an affidavit based on my license to vote where I live currently,” Madyun told Gothamist. After being sent by the Borough President's office to 345 Adams, Madyun was told she’d have to go back to Queens to vote and wouldn’t be able to submit a affidavit ballot in Brooklyn. She was rushing to catch the LIRR back to Queens, but said she would be using that time to figure out who she wanted to vote for in the governor’s race.
“I’m still struggling. We have great candidates — we have one that’s bringing new ideas to the forefront, and making everyone think about that and we have someone who’s tried and true,” she said.
Gothamist was asked to leave the Brooklyn BOE headquarters after inquiring about how many voters have reported being dropped from voter rolls and how many have come to the office at 345 Adams Street to find out if they’re supposed to be voting at a different location. Ray Riley, the chief clerk for the Brooklyn borough office (who replaced Diane Haslett-Rudiano in 2016 following the Brooklyn voter purge during that year’s presidential primary) told us to direct all questions to the citywide office at 42 Broadway in downtown Manhattan.
Board of Elections spokesperson Valerie Vazquez told Gothamist that many of today’s complaints stem from individuals not knowing they had to be registered Democrats to vote in the primary elections.
Shawn, another visitor to the Brooklyn DOE office, who would only provide his first name, expressed disappointment that he would not be able to vote in this election, because he had never listed a party affiliation when he registered to vote.
“If you’re registered to vote you should be able to vote,” Shawn said. He registered with a political party while at the office, but will still not be able to vote in this election. “If you’re eligible to vote you should vote. But sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to work out. Life goes on.”
UPDATE 5:45 p.m. Voters in the Northern Manhattan district represented by Democratic State Senator and former IDC member Marisol Alcantara received text messages today telling them that the polls close at 7:30 p.m. (they close at 9 p.m.) and falsely claiming the candidate received an endorsement from a union leader who didn't endorse her. Read more about the "outrageous" texts here.
Jumaane Williams campaigning alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Corona earlier today (Scott Heins)
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Mal Blum, a musician based in Rockland County and Brooklyn, spoke to Gothamist about a concerning encounter they had with poll workers at a New City polling site earlier today.
"There were these three older white guys sitting there, and the first guy was like, 'Are you here to vote?' and I said 'Yes!' because, you know, I was excited to perform my civic duty," Blum told Gothamist. "And he just looked at me blankly and was like 'Why?' I thought that was weird."
Blum continued, "Then the second guy straight up asks me, 'Are you a Republican?' And I'm this tiny Jewish, transgender, gay person, clearly. Why would I be Republican? So I tell him 'no,' then he pointed to the door and just told me to get out. I know that he was joking—I'm pretty sure he was joking—but I was just dumbfounded."
After asking the poll worker whether it was illegal to dissuade someone from voting, even jokingly, Blum says he replied, "Nope, because I live in American and I can say anything I want."
Blum later reached out to the Suffolk County Board of Elections about the interaction, and was informed the conduct is "against policy."
UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: We're hearing from more and more primary voters who are arriving at polling sites today to find that their names are mysteriously missing from the voter rolls. Read our full story on that hot mess, featuring an anonymous Brooklyn poll worker and New York magazine's Rebecca Traister, here.
UPDATE 3:25 p.m. Some public housing residents were apparently instructed by NYCHA this morning to not leave their homes. Robert Jones Jr., whose mother lives in Bensonurt's Marlboro Houses, wrote on Twitter, "I voted. I am now on my way to my mother’s house to wait there while she votes because @NYCHA told her she couldn’t leave the apartment from 8-4 because the electrician was coming to repair the electricity in the kitchen that has been out for several weeks."
On #NYPrimary day, #NYCHA asked its residents, mostly people or color, to remain home from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for an apartment inspection. Is that suss to you or nah? #VoteNYC pic.twitter.com/sj0HW0ntXy
— Son of Baldwin (@SonofBaldwin) September 13, 2018
A spokesperson for the housing authority, Jasmine Blake, tells Gothamist that 650 apartments were mistakenly scheduled to be assessed for lead today.
“We’re trying to inspect these apartments for lead paint as fast as possible. But we shouldn’t have scheduled appointments for election day," she said. We’re rescheduling inspections for the 650 apartments affected today who were not home, and we encourage everyone to get out and vote before the polls close at 9pm.”
She added that lead assessments will not be scheduled for November's election day.
UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: Add Mayor Bill de Blasio's son Dante to the ranks of voters who've had problems at the polls today.
Mayor: “I heard from Dante...he had a voter card from the BOE...officials at his poll site couldn’t find his name.” He had to fill out an affidavit ballot. pic.twitter.com/xpBLzeR94h
— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) September 13, 2018
Here's what the mayor said: pic.twitter.com/8kEtUz15Zc
— Jillian Jorgensen (@Jill_Jorgensen) September 13, 2018
UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: We're seeing reports of voters in multiple boroughs being forced to fill out affidavit ballots, even after confirming with the Board of Elections that they're on the voter rolls.
Yep. This happened to me at PS29 in Brooklyn. Sent to the wrong table (4x). https://t.co/xkE019ESBV
— Caroline Moss (@socarolinesays) September 13, 2018
Blogger RebelWheels writes that she checked last night to make sure she was still registered, only to find her name vanished from New York's voter registration search.
"I’ve been voting in Manhattan since 2013, now all of a sudden, I have to go to Brooklyn to vote," she wrote. "First of all, I am disabled and mostly bed bound so just physically getting to the polling location in my neighborhood is a big to do."
When she showed up at her regular polling place today, poll workers offered a not-quite-coherent explanation involving a possible address mix-up, before giving her an affidavit. "What kind of voting system do we have, where I basically have to rely on faith and trust?" she wondered.
Every story I hear about NY elections sounds like something out of the Bad Old Days
— Matt Ford (@fordm) September 13, 2018
UPDATE 12:17 p.m.: Our reporter Max Rivlin-Nadler just filed this from Williamsburg:
Voters at predominantly Hasidic polling sites in Williamsburg were largely absent this morning, days after their community was targeted by a controversial mailer sent by the Cuomo administration that painted his primary opponent Cynthia Nixon as anti-Semitic. Poll workers who spoke to Gothamist said turnout was on par with other primary elections, which tend to be incredibly low.
Outside of a voting location at IS 71 in Brooklyn, paid workers wearing white pharmacist coats with the logo of the The United Communities and Institutions Williamsburg organization handed out fliers with a sample ballot on them, instructing Hasidic voters how to vote. The choices represented the slate pushed forward by the Cuomo campaign, including current New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.
What Yiddish speaker would like to help me out here? This is being handed out in front of polling places in Hasidic neighborhoods in Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/xb73itg0rE
— Max RN (@MaxRivlinNadler) September 13, 2018
(According to Abby Stein, under Dilan's name on the sample ballot it says: “Check if Dilan is on the ballot—this is a very important election, make sure you vote for him.")
Chaim, a Hasidic voter at the polling site who only gave his first name, said that his number one factor for voting for a candidate was whether they had “support from the community.” He voted down the line for what was advertised on the flier.
At a nearby polling site at the Taylor Wythe Community Center in South Williamsburg, Robbie, who had been hired by The United Communities and Institutions Williamsburg to hand out fliers and sit a few feet outside the polling site, said that he voted for Cynthia Nixon.
“Honestly, Cuomo’s been in office long enough,” he told Gothamist from behind the table advertising the Cuomo-endorsed slate. “I like what [Nixon] is saying. We need a change and she believes everyone deserves a second chance. We got too many people locked up and with this president…we can’t mess around anymore.”
Robbie, the worker for The United Communities and Institutions Williamsburg (Max Rivlin-Nadler / Gothamist)
IS 71 is the same polling site where Gothamist revealed a brazen voting fraud scheme involving raffle tickets during the 2013 mayoral primary. Shortly after the site opened this morning, poll workers asked a table that had been set up to promote the Cuomo-affiliated slate to move away from the entrance to the polling site. It relocated to across the street.
Poll workers told Gothamist that while they have yet to see any evidence of attempts of voter fraud yet today, they have noticed members of the Hasidic community looking at voter totals by election district as they exit the polling site, as displayed on the scantron machines which process votes. They say they’ve been hurrying the people along after voting to discourage any attempts to gauge which districts haven’t voted in high numbers yet. They expect more voters to turn out later in the day.
Ditmas JHS in the southern part of my district has over 500 votes exceeding 2016 results. It is possible that more than 7,500 people have already voted in my district.
— Robert Carroll (@Bobby4Brooklyn) September 13, 2018
And also more reports of "mass confusion" at the ballot box. [Jeers!!!]
Checked my voter registration online. According to the state, I’m not anything. I’m a registered independent. So to recap, the poll workers say I’m a member of the Reform Party, the Democrats say I’m a Democrat, and the state says I’m an independent. Cool. pic.twitter.com/cjGCqTasNd
— Michael Ballaban (@Ballaban) September 13, 2018
Peeved that my wife and I were nowhere to be found on the voting roll this AM in Wash Heights, despite not changing our registrations and voting recently as last year. Someone really didn’t want my vote for @CynthiaNixon and @ZephyrTeachout 😡
— James Ryan (@jdryan08) September 13, 2018
Casted a ballot by affidavit. Poll workers were wonderful, if admitting to “mass confusion”. I’m sure my vote will count, but probably after the race is called 🤷♂️
— James Ryan (@jdryan08) September 13, 2018
Here's what to do if you're one of the many New Yorkers for some reason missing from the voter rolls:
🚨WHAT TO DO IF YOU SHOW UP AT YOUR POLL SITE & YOU’RE MISSING FROM THE VOTER ROLL🚨
➖Demand an affidavit ballot.
Even if your vote doesn't count this time, your name will become active on the rolls
THANK YOU FOR COMING TO MY TED TALK #NYPrimary
— Common Cause NY (@commoncauseny) September 13, 2018
Walking into vote at PS 163 on West 97th Street (Scott Heins)
UPDATE 11:00 a.m. A reader informs us that the Elijah Stroud elementary school in Brooklyn has a giant check signed by state Senator Jesse Hamilton hung "directly facing the entrance and line" to vote. A spokesperson for the state Board of Elections says there's an argument to be made that this is electioneering, but "it's a little murky."
"To be safe, if I were in the poll site, I would advise whoever is there from the school (Custodian or Principal, etc.) to just cover it with something and that removes any reason for an allegation of electioneering," the spokesperson added.
Also, a different Keith Hernandez is also having problems voting, for the third year in a row.
Voted. Had to do affidavit for the third year in a row because even though I had my detailed info, they didn’t have me. Again.
— Keith Hernandez (@keithrhernandez) September 13, 2018
UPDATE 9:30 a.m.: Here are some other reports of problems, one involving a powerful fan, and another from a New York magazine reporter whose name wasn't on the voting rolls.
Guess who wasn’t on the rolls this morning at the polling place I’ve voted for four years?
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) September 13, 2018
Also worth noting: this was 8:30, and the poll watcher who helped me said I was the second person she’d spoken to who had this problem—another woman who said she was an active, regular voter and not in the books.
— Rebecca Traister (@rtraister) September 13, 2018
@Gothamist only two scanners operating at poll site 00028 in Manhattan, one of which has a huge industrial fan pointed at it so ballots won’t scan smoothly on the 1st try... or 2nd... or 3rd...
— JennyPenny (@jkpenny) September 13, 2018
One would-be voter in Harlem went to vote at 6:25 a.m., only to find the polls still closed.
The tipster tells us their polling site, at 143rd St between Frederick Douglas Blvd and Adam Clayton Blvd, was not ready for let people vote until 7 a.m.:
When we arrived at 6:25 a.m. today, they were still closed! At 6:40, they told us it would be another 30 to 60 minutes before they would be open! At that point my Wife started complaining to the poll workers. They finally let us in about 6:48, though the Poll workers hadn’t taken the ballots out of the shrink wrap nor opened their voter books yet.
We were first in line for our District, and we finally voted around 7:00am. The big problem is all the people who showed up between 6:00am and 7:00pm, saw the polls closed, and left. These are all lost votes. I am not sure if this was deliberate or just incompetence, but it should not happen or be tolerated.
We asked the NYC Board of Elections why the poll site did not open on time, and were told, "The site was late to open because the police arrived with the wrong keys so equipment could not be opened. The site opened at 7AM."
In the Bronx, poll workers were not very pleased to see WNYC reporter Stephen Nessen... reporting:
First thing on Election Day, women in charge of polling site at PS 73 asks “the fuck you think you’re doing,” while interviewing voters after they vote. #democracyinthebronx pic.twitter.com/M9k25N5ydp
— Stephen Nessen (@s_nessen) September 13, 2018
— Stephen Nessen (@s_nessen) September 13, 2018
Meanwhile, in Queens, the headaches began early for one voter:
Why does voting in NY suck so bad?!??? First, I couldn't be found in the books, second was sent to one district then another. Took about 7 volunteers to finally get me to the right place. BOE, NYS, FIX THIS!! It's 2018!
— Shirley Limongi (@Slimongi) September 13, 2018