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Sparse morning voter turnout at Brooklyn poll sites

February 26, 2019 By Brooklyn Eagle Staff
Voter turnout for the public advocate special election has so far been slow, poll workers say. Eagle photo

Polls opened at 6 a.m. for today’s special election to decide the city’s next public advocate, and turnout so far has been low and slow, according to poll workers across Brooklyn.

By 9 a.m., only five people had voted in what workers said was the busiest election district that votes at St. Mark Catholic Academy in Sheepshead Bay. “It’s been real slow,” a poll worker told an Eagle reporter.

Related: Guide of guides: The Public Advocate special election
When to vote: The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where to vote: Find your poll site here.

Follow @BklynEagle on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

A poll worker at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights said turnout this morning had been “eh.” The room was empty at 9:30 a.m. Interpreters said no one had requested their services yet.

“Turnout is a lot lower than for a more typical election but a bit higher than most of us working here expected,” said a poll worker at Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge. “Voters seem to know who they are voting for when they get here since they don’t seem to spend much time filling out ballots.”

The public advocate acts as the citywide watchdog, and though they have few direct powers beyond proposing legislation, they often use the platform as a stepping stone to higher office. The last public advocate was Letitia James, whose election to New York State Attorney General is the reason for the special election. Before James, the office was held by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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The Nov. 6 general elections saw packed voter turnouts, but the rainy weather and busted scanners caused chaos across the city. This election is seeing a much lower turnout and much better weather, and few reports of voting issues in the morning.

Mike Bloomberg, an assembly district monitor for the Board of Elections, said that the last election showed the BOE what needed to be done next time around. “In the wake of the outcry about the combination of big turnout and bad weather in November, I think they were super ready for this one,” he said.

At 8 a.m. there were fewer than 10 people voting inside The High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Bay Ridge.

By 8:40, 20 people had voted at Ridgewood’s Grover Cleveland High School.

By 9:30 a.m. 23 people had voted at Fort Hamilton Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in Bay Ridge. Angelica Rodriguez, a poll worker at the site, told the Brooklyn Eagle that if this were a presidential election, probably 130 votes would have been cast by this hour of the morning. No problems had emerged with the voting machines, though. “Everything is going smoothly — knock on wood,” Rodriguez added.

The city interpreters said they were happy to be allowed inside the poll sites after a Brooklyn judge struck down the BOEs request for a temporary restraining order that would keep them outside polls. “It’s cold out,” one said.

By about 10 a.m., 15 people had voted at P.S. 239 on Weirfield Street, poll workers told Ridgewood tenant organizer Raquel Namuche.

Namuche said she first visited P.S. 239 to vote, but was told that her polling place had changed to the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council. A poll worker there said that 60 to 70 people had voted by about 10:15 a.m.

If you weren’t among the trickle of voters who came out this morning, check out our Guide of Guides, a roundup of the best guides to the special election and summaries of our coverage of the campaigns. The Eagle has reported on the candidates’ stances on issues from the BQE repairs to the mayor’s SHSAT plan to congestion pricing and more.

Make sure to share your voting experience with us on social media. Tag us in your “I Voted” sticker selfies on Instagram, and let us know how it went on Twitter or Facebook.

Polls are open until 9 p.m. this evening.

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