A tale of two boroughs: Astoria voting jammed, but Bronx polls light in one spot

When polls opened for early voting on Saturday, many voting sites were jammed packed with lines around the corner. On Sunday, some sites continued to have long lines, while others seemed to lighten up.

Officials at the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses community center in Soundview, the Bronx, said their site had a line into the street yesterday with about an hour wait, but today, there was no wait.

“I guess the people here either did their voting already, or did mail-in, or are scared to come out,” one poll watcher privately said. “We are open till Nov. 1 and I’m sure plenty of people will be coming.”

There was no wait time at Justice Sonia Sotomayor community center today. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

While the lines were gone those voting at the site were happy with the short wait and ability to vote early.

“It was a beautiful process today,” exclaimed Denise Burgess, a resident of the Sotomayor Housing complex who was accompanied by her friend Olga Alonzo, who echoed her sentiments. “We were in and out. I just hope more people will be turning out – we need volume. It gives you an option, and you don’t have the volume. I work, so it’s a real plus, Im self employed and I can’t take off.”

“This was fabulous. I was telling my sister we should go Sunday and I didn’t thank a lot of people would be out – and early voting – we were in and out,” added Cynthia Moore, who went to vote with her sister Gina.  “I’m glad I came today for early voting, loved it. When I go home, I’m going to put a notice in the lobby in my building and tell everybody they should do early voting.”

Cynthia Moore, who went to vote with her sister Gina proudly show their stickers. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“It was awesome – we beat the lines, it was really clear and plenty of social distancing,” said Leslie Martin, who came with her son, Giovanni Hardy, his first time voting. “Early voting encouraged me to vote.”

Her son agreed.

“It felt good, and I can’t wait to see how it goes,” Hardy said. “I’m a young man starting, so it’s nice to feel how it is to be an adult.”

Leslie Martin, who came with her son, Giovanni Hardy, his first time voting in the Bronx. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“I’ve been voting since the 80s, and then, they have my date of birth wrong, so I had to fill out a f0rm, and go through all this stuff, and finally, I got to vote,” said Joseph Sepeda. “We gotta go back to normalcy without the calamity, and Trump – who’s he gonna have a fight with today? What about the work of the people for the people?

Sepeda however, said he “loved the early voting.”

“We should’ve been doing this long time ago,” he added. “you go vote, and then you go back to work and your family. You don’t have to wait on these long lines – it’s the best thing they did.”

Joseph Sepeda of the Bronx said he got through the vote with only a minor issue – his date of birth. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

In Astoria at the Museum of the Moving Image, a line formed around the block Sunday, with about an hour wait for every voter. But most people didn’t seem to mind.

Nearly at the end of her wait, Connie Sigman of Astoria said she didn’t mind waiting in line.

“Glad to be able to exercise my right to vote,” said Sigman as she waited with hundreds around the corner from the entrance. “Things that are important sometimes take time.”

There was about an hour wait to get to vote in Astoria. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“I’m bummed we have to wait so long, but I’m proud so many people are showing up,” said Molly Cook,  who was waiting with her boyfriend Rafael Escobar. “This is your right and you have to use it and vote

Rafael echoed her thought and added, “This has come to be expected, so I have no problem waiting in line for my vote.”

Molly Cook,  who was waiting with her boyfriend Rafael Escobar in Astoria. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“It feels like a pretty good day, wait’s not too bad, on line about an hour. On Nov. 3, who knows how long the line will be?” said Frank G., standing in line with his girlfriend Carol C.

“This is probably the most important election of our life-time because we have a deadly pandemic, and it’s time to get some life quality back,” added Carol.

 (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“I’m looking forward to voting today, because it is a right we are lucky to have – people forget sometimes that not everybody across the world get to do what we do and we should not take it for granted,” said Emma Oyster with her husband Chris. “So we should always exercise our right to vote – this is a very important election – so I’m happy to be here,” 

“I’m excited to be here and its so important to be out here,” her husband Chris echoed.

Volunteers from the Astoria Mutual Aid Network were outside around the corner giving out snacks and refreshment to those standing in line to vote.

Gianna Cioffi with her colleague Lisa Simon wearing a vote mask of Astoria Mutual Aid Group. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“We are here supporting our community and our neighbors today while they exercise their democratic right to vote,” said Gianna Cioffi with her colleague Lisa Simon wearing a vote mask. “We are here because we care about our community and for everyone to have their voices heard and vote for who they care about.”

“We are all here because no one should decide your democracy for you,” added Simon as she walked up and down the line offering water to anyone who needed it.

The early voting will continue through Nov. 1.

The studio area was jammed in Astoria waiting to vote. Photo by Todd Maisel)
Voters are assisted by poll workers at the Museum of the Moving Image. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Poll workers direct voters to the booths in Astoria. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Lisa Simon wearing a vote mask in Astoria. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Voter catches up on study on line in Astoria. (Photo by Todd Maisel)