FLATBUSH – There were bright red signs all around each polling place reminding the candidates and their staff that they are not allowed to approach folks on their way into the polling stations within 100 feet of the entrance, much less inside their polling stations.
§ 8–104. Polls 1. The American flag shall be kept displayed at each polling place throughout the election. Facsimile ballots, voter information posting and distance markers shall not be taken down, torn or defaced during the election. While the polls are open no person shall do any electioneering within the polling place, or in any public street, within a one hundred foot radial measured from the entrances designated by the inspectors of election, to such polling place or within such distance in any place in a public manner; and no political banner, button, poster or placard shall be allowed in or upon the polling place or within such one hundred foot radial. While the polls are open no person shall consume any alcoholic beverages within the polling place.
In fact, the only polling station I would expect an elected official to be inside of today is the one where they cast their vote. This is the guide on Rules for poll workers.
Instead, we have a steady stream of reports from neighbors in Flatbush, Ditmas Park and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, all within District 40, that Council Member Mathieu Eugene has been spotted inside polling places, and approaching voters.
First, he stopped by P.S. 249: which may or may not be where he cast the vote himself, but he certainly took the time to talk to folks inside the polling site.
Then he was spotted by a number of neighbors on the plaza by the Cortelyou Road Library – most definitely within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place.
Around noon, a number of reports started coming in from voters at P.S. 217 on Newkirk and Coney Island Avenue.
School on Newkirk and Westminster at 12:25 – Rachel [last name witheld] emailed us these photos frustrated to find Eugene at her polling place: “I told both him and the staff and cop there that this was illegal electioneering and all they did was yell at me for taking photos.” (It’s true – as the poster on the wall clearly displays, “No Photography” – yet how else can you document something that should not be happening?)
He was also spotted electioneering just outside the school, but this seems to us to be just possibly within 100 feet of the entrance to the building, depending on how the poll workers determined the entrance to the location – gate or door.
Eugene’s supporters are certainly out in force, driving around slowly with sound blaring out of speakers mounted on a minivan blasting all the things Eugene will do for his constituents, and there are also lots of documented reports of Eugene staff electioneering too close to entrances of polling places.
We have not received any reports of Brian Cunningham or Brian Kelly volunteers electioneering too close to the polling stations.
We suspect it will be a close call, and every vote will, for once, matter.
If you do notice an issue, please do not keep it to yourself or your friends on social media.
Please do report any irregularities to the authorities:
Attorney General urges voters experiencing problems or issues at the polls to call the office’s hotline at 800-771-7755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time between 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM on Tuesday.
This is a developing story and we will keep updating.
Update 4:15: Stuff like the gas leak that was reported around 2pm at Fenimore poll location and turned out not to be true, but inconvenienced many voters, may or may not turn out to be something that happened as an attempt to influence an election where every vote really matters, but it may be better for authorities to investigate than your friends on social media.
There are unconfirmed reports of pre-filled pro-Mathieu Eugene ballots being handed out to voters in at least one location (Marlborough Gardens), and poll workers not clearing out pro-Eugene materials from booths between voters. You are allowed to bring in whatever materials will make it easier for you to decide who to vote for, but you have to take them with you when you leave.