Voters Ask: Does My Vote Matter?

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The majority in Koreatown said they are not interested in the Presidential election. Photo: Valerie Prassl.


People on the street in Koreatown did not express much interest in heading to the polls to vote for either of the two candidates, President Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

“I haven’t voted yet and I am not sure if I will still make it. If I will be able to vote at a polling station around this area, I will do it,” said Deborah Bang, who works as an acupuncturist and lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Another Korean woman said she will not vote at all. “I like Obama a little better than Romney, but by now I am not really interested in politics anymore,” said the 40-old pharmacist, who has lived in New York for half her life and asked not to be identified.

Two Korean students, one from NYU and one from Cornell University, said they wouldn’t vote either. “We’re screwed anyways, no matter who wins the election,” said 21-year old Kenny Lee. “Voting never came across my mind,” he said.

One Korean immigrant who is not an American citizen, and would not give his name, said he would indeed vote for Obama if he were allowed to. “Obamacare is a big issue for me. I come from a country with a national health care system myself. Romney would not keep the reform,” said the 37-year old photographer, who has lived in New York and New Jersey for the past seven years.

The famous Halal Guys cart at 52nd Street and 6th Avenue, which is known for its chicken and rice. Photo: Anna Cooperberg.

The Halal Cart, West 52nd Street

 Midtown workers on their lunch break at the Halal Guys cart on 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue seemed less focused on the election than on their orders of chicken and rice.
Despite being only blocks away from several midtown polling places, the majority of lunchers expressed a lack of interest in heading to the voting booths. Some forgot to fill out absentee ballots, while others were unable to vote due to last-minute business commitments. James Lindo, a 26-year-old accountant, said “there’s no real reason” why he didn’t vote. He cited laziness as an excuse.

Ray Tse, a risk management consultant from Texas who never requested an absentee ballot, said his vote didn’t matter because he “would’ve voted for Obama anyway.”

Many non-voting locals in line agreed with Tse, saying because New York is largely Democratic, their vote wouldn’t make a difference.

“People are not going to bother [voting] because it’s New York,” said Kyle Primm, a 26-year-old paralegal. “Same thing with California, Texas and all the deeply blue states.”

The line stretches halfway down 52nd Street. Photo: Claire Stern.

The Port Authority

Travelers line up for tickets at the Port Authority. Photo: Mei-Yu Liu.

Alycia Powers, a 19-year-old African American, was waiting in line at the Port Authority to get her bus ticket to back home in New Jersey. “I hope I can get to the polling place on time!” she said. It is Powers’ first time voting, joining a group of Democrats that includes eight family members and friends.

Many young voters like Powers were heading home to vote. NYU student Astrid Salas, who is 18, planned to vote with her parents, two brothers and two friends. As the second generation of a Hispanic household, she cares enough about immigration issues to endure the longer commute home in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. “It takes about one and a half hours to get back home, and Sandy makes it longer,” said Salas.

Margeaux Freda, a Fashion Institute of Technology student who lives downtown and is still without power, spent most of Election Day cleaning up her flooded apartment, but then set out for New Jersey with her mother, to vote.  “It delayed my plan,” she said of the clean-up, but she and her mother were confident they would get to the polling site before it closed.

Luis Davis, 25, is voting for the first time as a new U.S. citizen. Half Costa Rican and half British, this young artist was not yet familiar with the U.S. voting system, but is determined to participate. “I’m going to vote in New Jersey before it closes,” he said. “I don’t know how long it will take, but I hope I can catch it.”

Rushing Home to Vote Hoboken

Commuters from Hoboken, New Jersey who work in New York continued facing transportation snags on Election Day due to Hurricane Sandy.

At 4 p.m., in Area X at Port Authority, over 100 people lined up for the #126 bus, currently the only bus to Hoboken. All trains were cancelled. Police officers patrolled the line which was divided by yellow “do not cross” tape.

Madeline McCann, a 22-year-old Hoboken native who works in New York, worried about whether she could get to her polling place before 8 p.m. “I usually take the train, but the line is shut down,” she said. “I have to take the bus instead but I have no idea how to take the bus home.”

Election Day marked Deirdre Smith’s first day back at work since the hurricane. She described her commute as “hours longer,” and left work one hour earlier to cast her vote in Hoboken. She regretted not having sent in an absentee ballot.

“Honestly, I didn’t know it would be this bad,” she said.

Some commuters anticipated the delay and woke up early to vote before heading to work. Jessica McGeary woke up at 5:30 a.m. and was the second person to vote at her local polling station on Adams Street.

In previous election years, McGeary said she usually voted after her commute home. But after Hurricane Sandy, she made the decision to vote in the morning.

“If I got to work late, I could stay late at work to make up for it,” she said.

A fallen tree obstructs a sidewalk post-Sandy on First Avenue near East 64th Street. Photo: Anna Cooperberg.

Sandy solidifies voters’ decision

Despite the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, some pro-Obama voters said that the natural disaster reinforced their decisions about who should be elected President.

Lenny Felix, 23, a resident of Lower East Side, said that while Sandy caused a lot of  problems for her, personally, the way the current administration dealt with the situation made her feel she´d made the right choice of candidates.

“It was a natural disaster. It was no one´s fault. I am Obama all the way,” said Felix,  who works at Macy´s on 34th Street.

Lily Johnson, 54, said her decision to vote for President Barack Obama didn´t change after Sandy. “It seems like he knows how to deal with shit. He was running around trying to help us.”

Leslie Rosan, 65, said the hurricane made the election more “nerve-wracking” for her. “Sandy only made me worry even more that not enough people would be able to come out to vote,” she said.

Felicia York, 26, said while “Mitt Romney was campaigning during the hurricane, Obama was out “helping” people.