Jessica Welch, of East Flatbush, which has been beset in recent years by troubles at the polls, doubts voting in the presidential election will bring change to her community.
“It won’t make a difference anyway,” said Welch, 43.
Democratic organizers in East Flatbush scrambled this fall to make sure problems that plagued local polling sites in the past don’t keep voters like Welch home on Election Day.
City Councilmember Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) reported that machines used to electronically scan paper ballots were broken at a site used by more than 7,000 voters in the 2013 elections. Earlier this year, Victor Jordan, a community board member, filed a claim with the city Board of Elections alleging misconduct in election proceedings when he ran for the state Assembly in the primary.
And East Flatbush was heavily affected by the erroneous removal of an estimated 120,000 voters from registration rolls across Brooklyn between December 2015 and April 2016 – which only came to light when those voters tried to cats ballots in the April primary. That incident triggered an investigation by the state attorney general and an ongoing audit by the city comptroller. The Board of Elections started its own probe, dismissed two of its Brooklyn officials for having been overly zealous in trimming voter rolls and reinstated all those removed from the rolls, according to board spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez-Rivera.
Getting Out the Vote
Still, East Flatbush political leaders said a lingering wariness about the voting process could spell low turnout this time around. The numbers seem to support their concerns: In April, there were nearly 19,000 active registered Democrats in the voting district containing East Flatbush, but less than one-third cast ballots, records show.
Josue Pierre, the Democratic district leader for the 42nd Assembly District, which includes East Flatbush, arranged a mass email to registered Democrats to urge them to vote and teamed with other organizations on voting drives.
“Some voters are so convinced of a Democratic victory that they don’t feel the need to come out,” Pierre said.
An October event, “Get Vocal, Bring it Local,” aimed to spur civic activity. The Democratic organization also sponsored a debate-watching party and a trip to Philadelphia to canvas for Hillary Clinton.
The final push included the last in a series of phone bank efforts, held in Flatbush five days before the presidential election.
“We need to come together to change voting in Brooklyn,” said Christina Das, 24, treasurer of the Brooklyn Young Democrats, which was heavily involved in the get-out-the-vote drive. “When we show up, things get better.”