Jun. 27, 2023 By Michael Dorgan, Zach Gewelb, Ethan Marshall, Anthony Medina, Carlotta Mohamed, Julia Moro and John Schilling
Election Day is upon us as Queens residents head to the polls to cast their ballots on Tuesday, June 27, for the district attorney, civil court county judge and city council primaries.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and polling sites will not turn voters away as long as they are in line by 9 p.m.
Just under 45,000 New Yorkers turned out to cast ballots in early voting for the June 27 primary. As this is an off-year election, with no statewide or national office seats on the ballot, the polls are expected to have a low turnout today.
Among the few contested races in Queens has incumbent Melinda Katz looking to fend off challengers George Grasso, a former judge, and public defender Devian Daniels for district attorney.
Grasso was out at the polls in Little Neck early Tuesday morning and expressed plenty of confidence.
“Oh, I’m feeling great,” Grasso told QNS as he walked into the polling site at the Louis Pasteur Middle School 67Q, located at 51-60 Marathon Parkway, at approximately 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“It really feels great. I think we’ve touched a chord in Queens and I’m expecting a really good night, not only for my campaign but for the county and the city,” Grasso said. “And that’s why I’m doing this. That’s how I feel. I know I’m doing the right thing for the right reasons.”
Meanwhile, Katz arrived at P.S. 144 Col. Jeromus Remsen on Juno Street in Forest Hills at 9:30 a.m. to cast her vote, with her son Hunter by her side.
“I feel good,” Katz told QNS after voting. “Over the last four years, we’ve done the work, taking out the gangs, we’ve gone after the guns, addressing human trafficking.”
This time around, Katz hopes to win the Democratic primary comfortably after a nail-biting election in 2019 with then-public defender Tiffany Cabán, who has since been elected to City Council. Despite trailing Cabán on election night, then Queens Borough President Katz eventually pulled ahead and won the nomination by just 60 votes after a recount.
There was very little foot traffic as the polls opened this morning, which Katz left Katz feeling disappointed.
“It is unfortunate, the voter turnout so far,” Katz said “We’re hoping that it increases during the day..so hopefully people come out because they know the importance of what a Queens district attorney does.”
Katz added that one person eager to visit the polls today was her 12-year-old son, who joined his mother in the voting booth.
“It’s a little surreal to vote on a ballot where your name is with your 12-year-old son,” Katz told QNS. “But he’s used to it. He grew up in this life and in this world. I’m proud that he wanted to come.”
Throughout the morning, low voter turnout has being observed across Queens.
According to P.S. 169 poll worker Josh Sussman, this is typical of an off-year election.
“We’re probably one of the biggest voting locations in Queens,” Sussman said. “Many parents are getting their kids ready for the last day of school. That’s playing into [the low turnout thus far] too. It might get a little bit busier in the afternoon.”
Karl Lanfrit, a voter at Bayside High School, urged others to cast their ballots in every election.
“In my personal opinion, there are people who don’t think this election is that important,” Lanfrit said. “It’s just as important as any other election. Hopefully, later in the day, when people’s routines lighten up, they’ll [stop by and vote].”
Paul Graziano, the Democratic candidate for District 19 City Council also attributed the low turnout to the last day of school, the rain forecast, fireworks scheduled for Fort Totten and many people already left for summer vacations.
In Oakland Gardens, the gymnasium in P.S. 213 Carl Ullman School was empty for most of Tuesday morning, as poll site workers sat and chatted amongst themselves.
Meanwhile, as of 11 a.m., the polling site at P.S. 213, located at 231-02 67th Ave., has received six ballots since opening at 6 a.m., according to the poll site coordinator, Nora, who said she’s not sure if many people will show up to the polls today.
Elsewhere in the borough, the gymnasium at P.S. 115 located at 80-51 261 St., saw 17 people come in to vote this morning as of 11 a.m., according to poll site coordinator Jeanie.
Cara Sieden, who is working as an information clerk at the polling site, said she cast her ballot at the school, while her family already did so during the early voting period.
In response to the low voter turnout, Sieden said voters “can’t complain if they did not vote about what’s going on.”
According to one of the poll site inspectors, it’s been a slow day so far, but they’re anticipating more people to show up at around 5 p.m. to cast their ballot.
One person called the low voter turnout “disappointing” and said that residents who live nearby the school will most likely come out to vote, but throughout the district, people may not show up to the polls for the primaries.
Election officials at Information Technology High School in Long Island City, located at 21-16 44th Road said that 38 people had voted by 10:15 a.m. They expect the busiest period to be this evening at around 6 p.m.
Lainie Miller, a mother whose young daughter accompanied her while voting, said that she had voted for Hailie Kim in the District 26 City Council race, despite having voted for Julie Won last time around.
Miller said she voted for Kim because she supports universal free pre-K for 3-year-olds, known as “3K.” Mayor Adams is planning to halt the expansion of the program — which relies heavily on COVID relief money — in order to divert the funds to be used elsewhere for the education department.
Miller said 3K was her main issue when voting and that Won supports the mayor’s position. Miller said her older daughter is in the program and it proved to be beneficial.
Voting has also been slow at PS/IS 78Q The Robert F. Wagner Jr. School, located at 46-08 5th St., where only 43 votes had been cast at 12:15 p.m.
One voter, who said he just moved to the neighborhood, voted for Won based on her record in office.
“She’s done a lot for the neighborhood, a lot of money for schooling, a lot of money for parks, so I figured I’d vote for the incumbent,” said the voter.
At P.S. 60 in Woodhaven, Luis Lopez, a Queens resident for over 30 years and poll worker said he voted for Daniels for district attorney. He believes he will “go for the little guy” and “protect landlords.”
Check back with QNS for updates throughout the day!
Where to vote
The Board of Elections website helps voters find their poll site and a sample ballot by address. Visit findmypollsite.vote.nyc for more information.
Who’s on the ballot?
Queens district attorney: George A. Grasso (D), Devian S. Daniels (D), Melinda Katz (D)
Queens Civil Court County judge: Sandra Perez, Marianne Gonzalez
Queens Civil Court judge, 6th District: Steven T. Beard (D), Evelyn Gong (D), John Ciafone (D)
City Council District 19: Paul D. Graziano (D), Christopher S. Bae (D), Tony Avella (D)
City Council District 20: Dany Chen (R), You-Ching James Pai (R)
City Council District 22: Tiffany L. Cabán (D), Charles A. Castro (D)
City Council District 23: Steve Behar (D) , Rubaiya Rahman (D), Linda Lee (D)
City Council District 25: Ricardo Pacheco (D), Shekar Krishnan (D), Fatima Baryab (D)
City Council District 26: Hallie Kim (D), Julie Won (D)
City Council District 29: Sukhi Singh (D), Ethan Felder (D), Lynn C. Schulman (D)
City Council District 34: Jennifer Gutierrez (D), Paperboy Love Prince (D)
Early voting for the general election starts on Oct. 28 and ends on Nov. 5.