When Gothamist asked freelance photographer Christian Hansen to visit polling sites around the city on primary election day, he figured he was taking a relatively easy assignment. “It was the worst day, the most difficult day of photography in my entire life.”

One of those sites we asked him to visit was I.S. 71, the Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, in South Williamsburg. During the September 2013 primary election, that polling site was subject to a cash-for-ballots raffle scheme and allegations of brazen voting fraud.

When Hansen asked the BOE coordinator for permission to take pictures, he was summarily ejected, despite having written permission from the Board of Elections to take photographs. It was the third time he was kicked out of a polling site yesterday.

Outside the building, Hansen was threatened by poll workers when he attempted to document the dispute. "If you take a picture, I’m gonna hit you," one poll worker promised, with an NYPD officer standing by. "Leave, or I'm gonna hit you! I'm not playing. Leave!"

When asked why he was not allowed to take photos inside the polling site, another worker, who identifies herself as a coordinator, replies, “I’m not allowed to.”

Although the letter, which was in a PDF on Hansen's phone, was dated April 19th, he was told, "It's not accurate; it does not say today's date."

Hansen frequently shoots political events—last week his photo of Bernie Sanders supporters ran on the front page of The New York Times [PDF].

“I’ve covered primaries, I was in New Hampshire this year and I’ve covered Election Day. I’ve been to a number of polling sites. You walk in, introduce yourself, exchange some friendly greetings with the poll workers, and then ask them for permission to shoot,” Hansen says. “It’s very simple.”

New York City’s Board of Elections requires journalists to obtain a letter granting them permission to enter polling sites. The BOE’s manual for poll workers [PDF] sets out the guidelines:

Media/Press: They  are  allowed  to  be  inside  the  site  if  they  have  written  authorization  from  the  Board  of  Elections. They  are   allowed  to  film  or  take  pictures  of  individuals  with  the  individual’s  permission.  You  may  choose  not  to  be   photographed.  They  are  also  allowed  to  take  pictures  of  equipment  and  booths  as  long  as  voters  are  not   present.

Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel likened the inside of a polling site to a courtroom. “They can reasonably regulate the activity of the media inside of the voting site, but not outside,” Siegel says. “Unless there was some compelling reason to not grant journalists permission, they should give it to them.”

Gothamist obtained credentials from the BOE and distributed them to our reporters, including Hansen. By then, he had been asked to leave a Harlem precinct by a group of NYPD officers, and he agreed.

Poll site workers at the Bronx County Supreme Court were exceedingly friendly, Hansen says. “They were asking me to take their picture.”

Others, at Concourse Village in the Bronx, were not; despite displaying his credentials on his iPhone, he was kicked out of there, too.

“They need to figure out what the rules are for photographing inside and make them clear to the workers,” Hansen says. “Maybe put a little section in the manual that says ‘Photography is not evil.’”

Nathan Tempey also received the same letter from the BOE to report on a story from the Kings County Board of Elections office, but was still ejected from the premises.

"The administrative assistant running the front desk area wouldn't look at my letter for an hour, and when I asked to speak to one of her bosses, she had a security guard, a worker, and a police officer force me to leave the floor the office is on," Tempey says.

Tempey was eventually able to get ahold of a BOE spokesperson, who then made phone calls to get him in.

"The whole process took an hour and 20 minutes, of which I spent 15-20 minutes barred from entering even the elevator bay outside the BOE office."

A spokesperson for the city’s Board of Elections has not yet responded to our request for comment.