At 6:30 a.m., I stopped by the Bushwick Democratic Clubhouse to see if there was any activity.
A janitor wearing a chambray Ridgewood Bushwick work shirt opened the door. He appeared to be the only person there, and said there wasn’t anyone else inside.
This is unusual. On primary day, the club is often a beehive of activity, but it’s possible the Martin Dilan and Chris Olechowski campaigns are being coordinated from other sites.
Four hours later, when I returned for a visit, only Rachel Fuentes, a volunteer for Olechowski, was holding down the fort.
She had no idea where City Councilman Steve Levin, District Leader candidate Olechowski or Vito Lopez were. She was worried about the Yankees.
“Thank god we won last night, but I’m worried about a late-season collapse,” she said. “I know it’s possible, based on the Mets and the Red Sox.”
Jeez, Rachel, rub it in a little more.
I walked up the road to a senior center on Bleecker Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, my new polling site, which also happens to be Vito’s new site. A pair of reporters, including WNYC’s Colby Hamilton, and Post photographer Paul Martinka were camped outside waiting for him.
Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez was also on the scene monitoring the site before heading up to Northern Manhattan.
So far, no sign of the Assemblyman.
I went inside to vote and asked a poll worker how many people had voted so far. One of the reporters had said 19 had cast ballots so far, an average of about three voters per hour, but I wanted to get an updated count.
I also asked to take a photograph of an electronic scanner machine, and one of the workers said it was okay, as long as no one inside was in the photograph.
At that point, an officer with the 83rd Precinct leapt to attention and said I was not allowed to take a photograph or ask any questions about the election without showing an “Exit Letter” signed by the Board of Elections approving my media credentials.
When I asked him more questions about this policy, he called for backup.
Four other officers, including the precinct’s new community affairs officer, swung by to reiterate that I needed written approval from the Board of Elections before asking anyone any questions or taking photographs, and that no electioneering can occur within 100 feet from the polls.
“You are in the media and you can still influence the vote,” said one officer, explaining why I couldn’t find out how many people had voted so far. “You could say that Vito is ahead or behind, and discourage people from coming to the polls.”
I said my intention was to come in and vote, and then ask a few questions, but the coordinators were under no obiligation to answer them.
“You came, you voted, and now it’s time for you to take a walk,” said another officer.
New York’s finest, ladies and gentlemen! Off to Greenpoint!
An earlier post incorrectly referred to Rachel Fuentes as a staffer for Councilman Steve Levin. She no longer works in Levin’s office.
Tags: Vito Lopez
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