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Broken Machines Frustrate Voters at Queen of Angels

Queen of Angels (source: Georgia Benardos)

Nov. 7, 2012 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.”

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Wowed by 2 things:

1. The reference to rowers in a galley that Duffy is quoted saying. This neighborhood has a significant representation of Bangladeshis, Turks, and Hispanics. I’m sure Duffy was just making an observation, and wasn’t divulging any of his personal attitudes toward brown folk.

2. wowed by the comment by Oppressed Masses about letting “dogs” vote. What kind of dogs? Brown? Educated? Democrat? Republican? Land-owning?


Why did it take 3 hours to get a broken machine repaired? What was the nature of their failures? Did Kevin Duffy try calling the company to see if the scanner could be troubleshooted over the phone to resolve it faster? Did Mr. Duffy ask any of his staff if they would volunteer to possibly do a simple fix? Was basic scanner troubleshooting included as part of the 6 hour training course that the poll workers received?

You can throw a thousand scanners in one location, as Van Bramer seems to suggest, but if there’s a paper jam in 999 of them and nobody takes the initiative to fix a paper jam, then fire them, starting with Kevin Duffy.


Mr Parry, thanks for your news. I worked for BOE at PS 199 feeling good to after hearing our site was better than any others poll site in the area. For us who worked it was definitely a long work day started 5 am in the morning and ended several hours after poll site closed for voters 9 pm. Special thanks to both our coordinator Peter, Anna and chairperson Barbara.

It was a pleasure working with such a great team.


Two of the scanning machines at IS 125 were down as well, at least when I went in at 6:30 AM. Hopefully they were fixed. This country really needs upgraded infrastructure; this ad hoc localism isn’t cutting it for voting, health care, electrical grids, transit, etc.


People who previously voted at PS 150 were transferred to Queens of Angels. If more voters are registered at that site, there is an obvious need for more machines and workers. I sincerely hope this does not happen again. Having to stand in the cold for 1 1/2 hours to vote is unreasonable. The Board of Elections must be pressured to do a better job.

And how about making the print on the ballot visible without a magnifying glass?


When I was there – the huge lines were at the tables where you sign your name – the line at the machines was very short, even though one of them was down at the time.

I think they needed more people working at the tables.


Poll workers working like “galley slaves” deserve our thanks and appreciation for their efforts and all you voters who “stood your ground” on long lines also deserve praise.

You guys helped to make our democracy work. Let’s hope the BOE can learn from their errors and next time things will go more smoothly.

Marilyn S.

Oppressed Masses

Just think how much more difficult this will be when dogs are given the right to vote.


I remember somewhere in the bible reading that Jesus stood away from politics. Yet Christians get involved in the “world” affairs all the time.


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