By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Local politicians were easily re-elected on Tuesday, with none of the state and federal candidates facing any serious challengers in this year’s midterms.
State Senator Brad Hoylman had the easiest path to victory, not having to face any challenger at all, although many of his fellow Democrats vying to flip seats in the State Senate had much closer races. But enough were successful in their campaigns that Democrats were able to regain a majority for only the third time in the last 50 years.
Some Senate races had still not been called as of Wednesday afternoon but by Tuesday night, at least 32 Senate Democrats had won their races, and Republicans won 21 seats. The win means that Democrats control the State Senate and Assembly as well as the offices of the governor, comptroller and attorney general.
Incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney won against Republican Eliot Rabin with 86.2 percent of the vote. Rabin received 12.3 percent of the vote, and Green Party candidate Scott Hutchins got 1.5 percent of the vote. Incumbent Assembly Member Harvey Epstein beat out Juan Pagan of the Reform Party and Republican Bryan Cooper with 87 percent of the vote.
Poll workers at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village polling sites reported that turnout was high and similar to that of a presidential election year. Epstein said that he went to vote right when the polls opened at 6 a.m. and there were already at least 15 people in line at his polling site.
A poll worker at 451 East 14th Street in Stuyvesant Town said that almost 500 people had voted at that site by 9 a.m.
Although long lines persisted at polling places throughout the city due to high turnout, some lines were also due to broken scanners. Gothamist reported on Tuesday that some voters in Brooklyn neighborhoods waited up to four hours to vote in some polling places due to broken scanners, forcing voters to submit emergency ballots.
Another poll worker at 451 East 14th Street told Town & Village that one of the scanners at that site stopped working but that the emergency ballots that had been submitted were scanned and counted by 5 p.m. once the machine was fixed. Poll workers at 360 First Avenue said there were only minor problems with the machines, including ballots getting jammed on two occasions, but scanners at that location weren’t out of service.
Epstein, while doing some last-minute campaigning on the morning of the election outside the First Avenue L station, received enthusiastic support from residents in the neighborhood who said they already voted for him, but other voters Town & Village spoke with were more concerned with the national political landscape and the importance of voting in general than with local candidates.
“Sadly, I don’t have any strong feelings about any of the candidates,” said one Stuyvesant Town resident. “I voted for all the Democrats but on the Working Families Party line because I can’t stand either of the parties.”
The resident said that she didn’t want to give her name because she works in city government and felt that her employer might not be pleased with her opinion of the Democratic Party.
Other voters expressed enthusiasm about having their voices heard, even if they weren’t excited about the specific candidates they were voting for, arguing that citizens give up their right to complain of they don’t participate.
“People want to bellyache but if you’re not going to vote, where’s the beef?” said Larry Ridley, a 35-year resident of Stuyvesant Town. “There were times when people were kept from voting. It’s one of the things that we have as citizens in the United States.”
Peter Cooper Village resident Eliana Daboul agreed, saying that she felt it’s her duty to vote.
“If we’re going to live in the United States and complain, we should vote and have our voices heard,” she said.
One voter in Peter Cooper Village on Tuesday evening, however, was a little more skeptical, saying that voting in New York City is pointless because the results always swing so strongly Democratic. Then why did he bother voting at all?
“Because you gotta show up,” he said.