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Election season in Brooklyn

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Posted by Nate Goldman on Monday, September 16th 2019:

This message is not about politics, but only about my recollection of voting, in Brooklyn, NY. As a youngster, during the 1950's, my Father used to take me to the voting precinct, which was at a small church, on the southwestern corner of Glenwood Road, and Argyle Road. It was very exciting for me to go with my Father to the election precinct, watch him sign in, and go with him into the voting machine, see him close the curtain, pull all of the various levers, and then open the curtain. I distinctly remember going with him to that election precinct, during the 1952 Presidential election. Although there were lines, it didn't appear at that time, to be very crowded, as we never had to wait very long. It only took us a few minutes to walk from Westminster Road and Avenue H, to Argyle Road, and Glenwood Road. I don't remember when the Board of Elections switched our voting precinct to P.S. 217. The church election precinct was less crowded than P.S. 217.

In 1965, I became eligible to vote, since I was 21 years old. One had to be 21 in those days, since the law allowing 18 years olds to vote, didn't become effective until 1971. When I first went to register to vote at P.S. 217, I had to bring a copy of my high school diploma, to the cafeteria, in the basement. It was the first time that I was back at 217, in the basement, in over eight years. There were a lot of extra-curricular activities held in that basement, after school, when I attended that school. In any event, I was issued a voter registration card, at 217. I had to bring it every time that I went to vote. I wish that I had saved it as a souvenir. It should be noted that there were always long lines at 217, whenever I went to vote. The only other option was to vote by absentee ballot. However, one had to certify that they had a valid reason to do so.
I remember one thing about the election season, which was not pleasant. We would always hear these loud speaker trucks coming around in the evening, on Avenue H, shouting "Vote for so-and so". The volume of the speakers on those trucks were turned up very high, and there were even times, when those trucks came around in the daytime. In Ohio, not once in all of these years, have I ever seen or heard a loudspeaker truck coming around in the residential areas, during the election season. Instead, we have a lot of yard signs, which list names of candidates. I never saw one yard sign in Brooklyn, on any lawn on Westminster Road, or any adjacent street, which had a front yard. Also, in Ohio, if one wishes to vote by absentee ballot, they may do so, without a valid reason. It certainly beats standing on line, for long periods.
One time, at P.S. 217, there was a primary, and it was only for those enrolled in a specific political party. Evidently, a voter was not qualified to vote in that primary, and he became very agitated, when he was told by the election officials that he could not vote in that primary. At that time, the NYPD always had a least one Patrolman stationed at all of the election precincts. I don't know if they still do so. In any event, a 70th Precinct Patrolman tried to deescalate the situation. The voter was agitated, and obstinate, and refused to leave. Finally, the cop stated in typical Brooklynese "If youse don't shut your mouth, I'll smack youse right in your face". It worked, as the agitated voter left; only in Brooklyn!

Reference ID: BK95976


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