Illegal requests at polling station

Amity Paye | 11/5/2013, 5:12 p.m.
This morning I encountered four alarming requests when I went to vote

This morning I encountered four alarming requests when I went to vote at Samuel Community Center on Malcolm X Blvd. near my apartment in Harlem.

  1. I was asked to show ID for an election in New York State
  2. I was told I could only vote down one (party) line
  3. I was told I could only vote for 3 out of 6 ballot proposals
  4. I was told my voter number (which identifies me) was supposed to be on my ballot.

Each of these is illegal in New York State and raised worries at the Amsterdam News, where I work, that voter suppression or misinformation might be happening at other locations, un-reported or maybe unknown, during todays election.

“Oh, wow” was the Board of Election’s phone attendants response when I told her what had happened.

“Wait a minute. They told you what? Where is this? this is in Manhattan?” Said Valerie Vazquez, Director of Communications at Board of Elections in the City of New York, this morning. She immediately sent “a team” over to investigate. I also went back to Samuel for some clarification and spoke to Anthony Walker, an Assembly District Monitor.

Here is what happened:

This morning when I went to vote I walked in and headed to the first table where I saw people signing-in. I gave my name. “Your name is not on the list.” I hesitated for a few moments knowing I was registered. It's a good thing I didn't walk away. “It may be on the other list,” she said, after a moment of me standing there, and pointed to another table.

The NAACP reported that at one polling location on Adam Clayton Powell this morning a member of the orginzation couldn't vote at all because they were having a hard time finding people’s names at all on the registration forms. “Again that is because a lot of people don't want to do that work. It's a long day for what they get paid,” said Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference.

I waited on line at that table, labeled with my district, and then gave them my name. The poll worker, Monet Adams, looked me up, I could see my signature on the page. “Do you have ID?” she asked. “Yes," I hesitated again, fairly sure that in New York State I did not need to show ID in order to vote. As I pulled my ID out of my wallet, another poll worker wearing a blue shirt looks over.

"why are you asking for ID?"

"Because it's required"

"No it's not, your not supposed to ask for it."

I quickly pulled my ID away stuffing it back into my wallet.

“A voter does not need any identification or ID card to vote,” reads the first point on voters rights in the poll worker reference guide on the Board of Elections in the City of New York website. The poll workers at Samuel later told Board of election officials that they didn't ask you for ID that I had presented it.

But, after explaining that some voters are required to show ID, if there is a discrepancy in their registration address, I had a poll worker verify that this was not the case with me. “New York is a signature state so we are not allowed to ask you for ID. So again we apologize” said Walker.