By Zoisa Fraser in New York*
Despite what some described as unusually long lines, voting in New York for the presidential and US senate races was generally smooth yesterday.
At polling places at St. Margaret’s House on Fulton Street and in District 65, a group of foreign journalists, including a representative of Stabroek News, heard from citizens who turned out early to cast their votes that they were all generally impressed with the ease of the process and the conduct of the polling staff.
The polling stations were opened from 6am.
Elderly persons were given preference and were therefore able to avoid having to join the long lines or having to stand in the cold to wait for their turn to vote. The police were visible at each of the polling stations visited as part of a wider effort to ensure the safety and security of New Yorkers in wake of an alleged ISIS threat.
The majority of New Yorkers typically vote for the democrats and as a result Hillary Clinton, who is aiming to be the first woman president of the United States, is expected to win the state by a large margin. Polls yesterday showed her slightly ahead of Donald Trump, while eyes were on several key battleground states, which are seen as critical for Clinton to win.
At St. Margaret’s, Jerry Fang said the process was smooth and he was left generally satisfied in the end. He said inside the building people are just patient. “I was pretty surprised at the turn out… I thought I would be able escape a lot of the rush but I mean it is good that so many people are here,” he said, before declining to say who he voted for.
Cecil Weeks said that the process was “fast, good and organized.” He said that though the line was long, the process took about ten minutes. He said that he was excited to vote but declined to say who he voted for although he hinted that he gave Clinton the nod. “It’s complicated. I voted to ensure that Trump does not win. I would say that much,” he said.
Asked what his main expectation from this election is, he responded, “I don’t know. I am a little bit concerned either way because I am actually a fan of Hillary. I am not really concerned about anything with her. I am more concerned about how the country would feel if she won ’cause the country is so divided… I hope it is not close. I hope she wins by a landslide,” he said
Tiffany Winbush said the voting process was quick although she noted that her polling place had never been as busy. “I am excited to see so much of my residents come out today. The poll workers did a great job. It was fast… it was efficient. I think I maybe waited 15 minutes tops,” she said.
Sarah Giles said that she arrived sometime between 8:30am and 8:45am and had no problem. “It’s a little crowded but it is pretty simple… get in line, get the ballot and get it scanned,” she said, before adding that going through the process was very easy. She said that she voted for Clinton. “I could not be more excited and now I am crossing my fingers and saying my prayers,” she added.
According to Giles, she is excited to vote for Clinton because the idea of the first woman president resonates strongly with her. She said that she believes the work that Clinton has done on human rights and children’s rights around the world and her experience as a Senator, the First Lady and the Secretary of State are all pluses. Giles said that she is “optimistically confident and hopeful that Clinton will win.” She said that she cannot understand why people would vote for Trump.
‘Lied too much’
Meanwhile, in District 65, 70-year-old Lucianna Dekerman, who was born in the Ukraine, told Stabroek News that she spent over fifteen minutes at her polling place and had no problems voting. Dekerman, who went to vote with her husband, who uses a wheelchair, said they were given preferential treatment and managed to get ahead of those standing in line because of their age.
She said she is Republican and is very supportive of Trump’s candidacy. “I don’t like liars and she (Clinton) lied too much… It was enough of her husband …and especially…Benghazi (the attack on the US Embassy in Libya),” she said, before adding that she is not bothered by the fact that Trump has no political experience.
According to Dekerman, Trump has good experience as an administrator. She said that he has a big business and had promised so much. “I think about my kids and grandchild… he is a people person,” she added.
Clinton supporter Colin Mahoney said with a chuckle “my ballot jammed but the computer said that the vote was counted.” He said that besides this glitch, the process went smoothly and he is not too worried because it is a “heavy blue” (Democratic) district.
Mahoney said that he arrived at the location with his young daughter about 25 minutes before speaking to this newspaper. He said that he was surprised with the long lines. “I voted for Hillary, very proudly,” he added.
Another man, who asked not to be named, said that in all his 45 years of living in District 65 he has never seen such long lines on elections day. He said that he would wait until the crowd eases before he goes to vote. “I am not gonna vote until there is none in the line,” he said.
Christina Volcy, a legal assistant working with non-partisan voter protection coalition Election Protection, noted that she had received no complaints but thought that the lines were really long, which could be because people were eager to vote. Among her duties was to follow up with voters and to ensure that lines are not too long and that there were no problems with the voting machines.
“There is no serious issue. I also think it’s because it’s New York and everyone is trying to be nice about it,” Volcy said. She said that she had so far visited four polling locations and it was the first time she was participating in Election Protection.
*Stabroek News is one of two Caribbean media houses chosen to participate in the US Election Tour organised by the US Department of State’s Foreign Press Center.