NEW YORK, Sept. 16, CMC – Grenadian American New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams has expressed concern about what he described as the gross disenfranchisement of Caribbean and other voters in last week’s Democratic Primary elections in Brooklyn, New York.
Williams, who represents the largely Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said he “witnessed and reported” serious problems experienced by voters throughout his district on election day last Thursday.
“What I witnessed at the polls was simply the worst example of voter disenfranchisement I have personally seen,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation on Saturday.
“Voters, many of them seniors, were streaming out of polling sites screaming, cursing and near tears over the frustration they experienced,” he added.
“There are countless stories of voters being told that they were at the wrong polling site. It is understandable that there would be some issues due to redistricting, but with this much confusion the problem clearly was a lack of accessible information,” Williams continued. Additionally, he said numerous voters were not informed of their ability to ask for an affidavit ballot.
He said he walked several of these “confused individuals” back into the polls, to exercise their right to vote, including one woman who, he said, was told the paper ballot would not count and was discouraged to fill it out.
In order to ensure that voter disenfranchisement does not recur in the November Presidential Elections, Williams urged the Board of Elections to “act immediately on a broad campaign of education for voters and poll workers alike.”
New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has also called on the Board of Elections to resolve mistakes that plagued Primary Day voters. He said he received complaints from voters who did not receive accurate poll site information in the mail and encountered poll workers unable to direct them to the proper poll site when they arrived to vote.
Board commissioners said they thought the new system would be more accurate, but acknowledged it had not yet improved the speed of election-night results.
Meantime, in the primary elections, in which candidates sought election/re-election in the state Legislature, veteran New York State Assemblyman Nick Perry - Jamaican beat Terry Hinds, a lawyer, whose parents are Barbadian.
Perry received 4,200 votes to Hinds’ 1,300 in the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn.
Winners in the Democratic Primary in New York, which is a heavily Democratic Party state, is usually a shoo-in to win the general elections.