Voters throughout much of Queens will go to the polls Thursday, Sept. 13, to cast ballots in primary races held by both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Citizens can expect some changes and possible complications, however. The state Senate and Assembly districts for which the primaries are being held have been redrawn, as per the last Census, so many residents will be faced with names that may not be familiar to them.
Because of the redistricting, many voters will also have to cast their ballots at different polling places than those they are used to. Some, especially the elderly, have complained that they will have to trek much farther to vote, an issue highlighted recently by state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).
To further complicate matters, in at least some parts of the borough, the Board of Elections has directed voters to the wrong pollling place in its recent mailings. One of those voters is City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who was spotlighted in a Daily News article on Saturday about the problem.
Voters all around the city may go to the wrong place to vote thanks to the BOE’s errors, Crowley said.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a Democratic candidate for mayor next year, weighed in by saying the BOE “needs to make this right. Fast” [see separate story in most editions, or at qchron.com].
Anyone denied the right to vote because of the errors, or for any reason, has the right to demand and fill out an affidavit ballot, which would be counted later if it is determined the voter was correct. During the last primary, however, the one held for federal offices in June, at least some Queens voters complained they weren’t given affidavit ballots by poll workers when they thought they should get them.
The final complication is the day of the vote, Thursday. Votes are always held on Tuesdays, but this year the second Tuesday in September is the 11th, so officials moved the primary to the 13th.
Much but not all of Queens will be voting. Most of the races are for Democratic Party nominations, but there are two contests within the Republican Party.
In the 16th state Senate District, which cuts through wide swaths of northern and central Queens, the race is between incumbent Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and challenger John Messer, an attorney and businessman. Democrats vote in that contest. The winner will face Republican nominee J.D. Kim, a lawyer, in November’s general election.
In southern and central Queens, a Republican contest for the 15th Senate District nomination pits Juan Reyes, an attorney backed by the borough’s party establishment, against City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), a leader in an insurgent wing of the party backed by the state GOP leadership. The winner will face incumbent Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) in November. There is also a contest for the Independence Party line in the race. The newly redrawn district reaches Middle Village in the northwest and Kew Gardens Hills in the northeast.
In southern and southwestern Queens, Democratic Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), who represents the 38th District, is being challenged by Etienne David Adorno, a member of Community Board 9 and an aide to Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan).
In another Democratic contest, one in the southeastern section of the borough, including Jamaica and the eastern Rockaways, state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) of the 10th District is facing two challengers. One is City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) and the other is community activist Gian Jones of the Rockaways.
A bit north of the 10th District, Democratic Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) is being challenged by attorney Clyde Vanel for the 33rd District seat. The district includes much of eastern Hollis and southern Floral Park as well as Queens Village.
The only place in which both Democrats and Republicans have a primary is the 40th Assembly District in Flushing, the new version of the old 22nd District, now held by Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing). Meng won the Democratic nomination for the 6th Congressional District in June, and will face Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) in that contest. The race to succeed her features seven candidates, five Democrats and two Republicans.
The Democrats are Ethel Chen, Yen Chou, Martha Flores-Vazquez, Ron Kim and Myungsuk Lee. Kim has been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party. The Republicans are Phil Gim, the Queens GOP’s choice, and Sunny Hahn.
Voting will be held from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Anyone with questions may call the BOE at 1 (866) VOTE-NYC (868-3692), or, if hearing-impaired, at (212) 487-5496. The board’s website is vote.nyc.ny.us.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.