Sheepshead Bay

An accident shuttered this Brooklyn polling site. Then, community members stepped in.

November 4, 2020 Anastasiia Carrier
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Voters began lining up before 6 a.m. at William E. Grady High School in Sheepshead Bay on Tuesday. And they waited. And waited.

The site’s Board of Elections coordinators had been involved in a car accident. Without them, the location’s poll workers, most of them first-timers, were unable to open the site.

As the line out in the cold reached 200 people, and some voters started to leave, Kaliswa Brewster, a first-time poll worker, tweeted out a call for help.

The line outside William E. Grady High School reached 200 people on Tuesday morning. Photo: Anastasiia Carrier

“Can someone please send someone to B041 in Sheepshead Bay? People are freezing and leaving the poll site,” Brewster tweeted to the Board of Elections. She went outside to speak with people and try to persuade them to wait.

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Rev. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister at Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan, saw Brewster’s tweets and made a few calls. Soon, her colleague Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft and Ashcraft’s husband Graham were on site giving out donuts and coffee to people in the line.

Pizza to the Polls, a nonprofit that helps to boost voters’ morale, also sent pizza.

Eventually, two experienced poll workers stepped in. Under their supervision, the voting site was able to open by 8 a.m. Board of Elections officials arrived later in the day.

The community support left Brewster feeling heartened.

“I really want to be a poll worker again,” said Brewster. “I want to come with more experience next time. I get why people do this for decades.”

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