Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Determined to vote - Jamaicans wait hours to cast their ballots in NY

Published:Friday | October 30, 2020 | 12:16 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) stands in line to cast his early vote at the Park Slope Armory YMCA on Tuesday in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The mayor waited over three hours in line to cast his vote.

When Jamaican Dorrett Aarons entered the polling station in Mount Vernon on Tuesday to cast her vote in early voting in New York, little did she know that it would have been an eight-hour wait.

“I got to the polling station around 12:26 p.m. and did not get to vote until 8:06 p.m.,” she said.

Aarons said that when she arrived at the polling station, the line was already more than six blocks long. A block is just under a quarter-mile.

According to Aarons, part of the reason for the long wait was that many voters were unaware that there were propositions relating to the city of Mount Vernon on the back of the ballot that had to be filled out.

“If you did not fill out the propositions, your ballot would have been marked as spoilt, so many people had to do over their ballots,” she said.

Her experience is replicated throughout New York where voters, trying to take advantage of early voting in New York State, were met with very long lines.

Tony Kelley, who voted in New Rochelle, experienced a one-and-a-half-hour wait time to vote.

“I usually go early in the morning to vote to avoid the lines, but I went in the middle of the day, and the lines were very long,” he said.

Junior Dunn, who also took advantage of early voting, reported a similar wait time of one and a half hours.

“I arrive at the polling station around 6:30 a.m. and waited one and a half hours after the 8 a.m. opening time so vote,” he said.


Dunn pointed out that while he was waiting in line, more voters arrived until the lines became very long, stretching for many blocks.

He noted that his sister also had to wait one and a half hours to cast her vote on Monday.

Pam Brown endured a four-hour wait when she turned up at the King’s Theatre on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to vote.

“The lines were very long, but I was not going to leave as it was important to me that I get my vote in,” she said.

These are just some of the stories from Jamaicans around New York as many tried to take advantage of early voting.

Lines stretched for many blocks in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, and suburban cities, villages, and towns.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio waited more than three hours to cast his ballot in Brooklyn.

The complaint was that many voting places did not have sufficient machines to accommodate the surge of voters turning out to vote.

Brown noted that there were not enough voting machines to allow for a speeding-up of the process, given the number of people who turned out.

“Maybe they were not expecting this many people to take advantage of early voting,” said Brown.