Broken machines frustrate voters at Queen of Angels
By Bill Parry
Election Day was a long and frustrating process at Queen of Angels for voters and workers.
The polling station was beset by too few scanning machines, and those that were there broke down.
“We only had three machines, and one broke when we opened at 6:00am this morning,” said election coordinator Kevin Duffy. He said as soon as a repairman sent by the Board of Elections got that machine running, the other two broke down.
The machine problems meant long lines all day for a voter turnout that was much bigger than expected. According to Duffy each district averages about 750 voters, but this year over 1100 were registered at that location.
I’ve been doing this for 27 years,” Duffy, a resident of 48th St. said, “and this is the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The deluge of voters meant no breaks for the workers at Queen of Angels. “It’s like they [the workers] are rowers in a galley and they were told to keep rowing faster and faster,” said Duffy.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who was on the scene, said, “The BOE [Board of Elections] has got to be prepared for the volume. Clearly you need more machines in high turnout areas.”
Only one scanning machine broke down at P.S. 150, but it took three hours to fix. An influx of displaced voters from Rockaway, Staten Island and Long Island made the day a difficult one for P.S. 150 coordinator Jacqueline Donnenfield. “I’ve been anchored to the information desk all day answering questions,” she said.
Displaced voters also showed up to vote at I.S. 125 on the south side of Queens Blvd., but coordinator Cecilia Walsh didn’t think their presence created any problems. “Voter confusion over redistricting and the lack of experience of my election workers created delays early on, but we’re working our way through it,” Walsh said, adding that she thought that P.S. 199 had the most experienced group of election workers in the area.
Of the four stations visited, P.S. 199 had the smoothest operation once it cleared the morning rush. Coordinator Peter Montoro said, “For the number of voters we’ve handled we’ve had very few problems. As of 2:45 we’ve had over 1600 vote. There was some confusion earlier but everything’s worked out.”