A Veteran Poll Worker and Community Leader Reflects on a Moment When the Franchise Is More Confounding Than Usual
Battery Park City resident Bob Schneck is a longtime activist, community leader, and poll worker, who is concerned about the process of voting this year.
Longtime Battery Park City resident Bob Schneck has always looked for ways to serve—whether as a member of Community Board 1, or a poll worker or an activist for more than a decade.
Asked to reflect on what drives him to show up at local voting locations before 5:00 am each Election Day, and stay until 10:00 pm, he says, “I see it is a civic responsibility, plus I get a rush out of it. It is a wonderful chance to meet the neighbors and fellow poll workers each year.”
During that decade, he says, “the City’s Board of Elections has improved, especially in most recent few years. We still need a lot of work, but we keep getting better.”
“The challenge is that this work is extremely difficult and demanding,” he reflects. “And it needs to be delivered 100 percent. Poll workers put in almost 17 hours, with three minimal breaks. But overall, it is a system that works reasonably well.”
“I have a lot of concerns about this election,” he says. “Voting is both a sacred rite and a duty. But when the process of voting has been politicized and the integrity of the process called into question, it’s a formula that risks disaster.”
Mr. Schneck continues, “at least at our local poll site, never before has there been an imagined question whether the result was accurate. In the years I’ve worked elections, we’ve commonly had poll watchers, but there was nothing much for them to do, other than write down numbers at the end.”
“New York voting has always been a stable, trustworthy process,” he recalls. “Treating it like a danger to democracy, rather than the source of its strength, is contrary to the facts.”
These concerns are particularly acute because of changes in how people will vote in the wake of the pandemic coronavirus. “Last June, because of my health, and also out of a desire to test the process, I decided to try absentee balloting,” Mr. Schneck says.
“I was stunned about how incomplete and confusing the instructions were. And I’m relatively familiar with this process, which meant that other people might have even more trouble.”
When Mr. Schneck brought his ballot to an early polling site and submitted it, “I found out that I had done four things wrong—each of which would have, by itself, disqualified my ballot,” he notes.
“The first glaring problem was my signature,” he says. “The copy on file with the Board of Elections dates from when I came to Manhattan, in 1987. But my signature has changed drastically in the years since. So they didn’t match.”
“This was never a problem when I voted in person,” he notes, “because they don’t only rely on signatures at local polling sites. But when an absentee ballot is opened in a counting room, they have the power to disqualify any voter whose autograph doesn’t match the one on file. There has been much hard work and many big improvements for this general election by the Board of Elections, including a system that enables the signature on the outside of the envelope to be signed and witnessed to verify identity. And there’s a procedure in place to make some corrections.”
That noted, Mr. Schneck cautions that, “it remains extremely important to follow exactly all of the instructions. There must be no marks on the ballot and the ballot envelope must be sealed. There may be new systems to remedy some problems, but the best plan is to get it right the first time.”
His primary advice is that anyone who is able should vote in person, but also avoid health risks by doing so well in advance of Election Day. The early voting site for most residents of Lower Manhattan is the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, located at 155 Sullivan Street (near the corner of Houston Street).
Early voting begins this Saturday (October 24), and continues through the following Sunday (November 1). Hours vary, so please check with City’s Board of Elections website.
For those who decide that an absentee ballot is their best option, an application must be submitted by next Tuesday (October 27), either by email (Apply4Absentee@boe.nyc), fax (to 646-638-2047), or online at the Board of Elections website (https://www.vote.nyc), or via mail.
The address for paper mail is:
200 Varick Street (tenth floor)
New York, NY 10014
Applications submitted via mail must be postmarked by the same (October 27) deadline.
Finally, it is also possible to apply in person for an absentee ballot, by appearing (on or before November 2) at the same address.
In addition to the options outlined above, absentee ballots can be dropped off at the any polling site on Election Day, or any early voting site between October 24 and November 1.
But, Mr. Schneck cautions, “it is much simpler, more direct, and less prone to complications to go to the early voting site in advance, or to take your stand safely at your polling place on Election Day.
Should They Stay Or Should They Go?
State Judge Halts Planned Transfer of Homeless Men to FiDi Hotel
In a dramatic reversal of a previous ruling, New York State Supreme Court Justice Debra James on Monday afternoon granted a temporary restraining order barring the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio from implementing its plan to begin moving homeless men into a Financial District hotel—a transfer that was slated to start on Monday.
The last-minute motion, filed on Monday morning by attorney Michael S. Hiller, acting on behalf of the homeless men who were scheduled to be transferred to the Radisson New York Wall Street (located at 52 William Street), argues that planned move “would have a devastating effect on the lives and well-being of the Lucerne Residents.”
Wagner Park, with its gardens and views of the Hudson River and New York Bay, is the perfect setting to practice your art. Participants are expected to bring their own drawing and painting supplies, including drawing boards and containers of water if they are planning to paint. BPCA will supply drawing paper and watercolor paper only. Program is first come, first served for up to 20 participants. Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Art-making is self-guided. Participants must remain 6 ft apart for the duration of the program. Free.
A weekly bagpipe tribute honors those who died on 9/11 as well as those who are sick or who have died from exposure to hazards and toxins in the aftermath of 9/11. Bagpipers play near the 9/11 Memorial Glade. Free.
1) Capital and Expense Budget for FY 2022 – Resolution
2) Warren St Cargo Bike Corral – Presentation by the DOT Freight Division
3) 52 William Street “temporary” shelter- Report, discussion and possible resolution
4) Committee Reports
What’s Up, Dock?
Pier A Restaurant and Bar Shuts Down
The Harbor House Restaurant on Pier A has shut down, with no definite plan to reopen. A spokesman for the Battery Park City Authority says that agency, “is working with all relevant parties to determine a path forward.”
This distress (which predates the restaurant-industry woes triggered by the pandemic coronavirus and the economic slowdown that followed) was highlighted in December, 2018. To read more…
Fresh as a Daisy
Daisy Peaz Honored as Woman of Distinction
Daisy Paez, a Lower East Side activist who has served for years as a local District Leader, and is a universally revered matriarch among Downtown’s political and community family, was honored recently by State Senator Brian Kavanagh as a Woman of Distinction—an accolade conferred each year by the upper house of the Albany legislature, recognizing women across New York who are impacting their communities, while setting an example for future generations of New Yorkers.
Earlier this year, Ms. Paez successfully waged a life-and-death battle with the pandemic coronavirus, during which she struggled for many weeks, first at New York Presbyterian’s Lower Manhattan Hospital, then at the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, in White Plains.
Losses and Closures Mount Among Downtown Dining Spots
A new report from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli documents the impact of the ongoing pandemic coronavirus on the restaurant industry in Lower Manhattan.
In this report, Mr. DiNapoli finds, there were 1,981 operating restaurants and bars before the pandemic began, which places Lower Manhattan behind only the Chelsea/Clinton/Midtown Business District PUMA area, with 2,661 such establishments. (Together, these two areas account for nearly 40 percent of the City’s restaurant jobs.) To read more…
Quay to Success
Pier 26 Opens with Amenities Galore
The tally of great public spaces in Lower Manhattan has increased by one. Last Wednesday, the Hudson River Park Trust officially opened Pier 26 in Tribeca (near Hubert Street), the product of a decade-plus of planning and construction, and a $37-million budget.
The result is 2.5 acres of woodland forest, coastal grassland, maritime scrub, and a rocky tidal zone—all culminating in a breathtaking view of the Hudson River. Additionally included in the design are a multi-use recreation field and a spacious sunning lawn, as well as boardwalks and seating areas. To read more…
TODAY IN HISTORY
The Guggenheim under construction
1097 – First Crusade: Crusaders led by Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemund of Taranto, and Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse, begin the Siege of Antioch.
1600 – Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats the leaders of rival Japanese clans in the Battle of Sekigahara, which marks the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate.
1774 – First display of the word “Liberty” on a flag, raised by colonists in Taunton, Massachusetts in defiance of British rule in Colonial America.
1797 – In Boston Harbor, the 44-gun United States Navy frigate USS Constitution is launched.USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy, named by George Washington
1824 – Joseph Aspdin patents Portland cement.
1867 – Medicine Lodge Treaty is signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders. The treaty requires Native American Plains tribes to relocate to a reservation in western Oklahoma.
1921 – Warren G. Harding delivers the first speech by a sitting U.S. President against lynching in the deep South.
1940 – The first edition of the Ernest Hemingway novel For Whom the Bell Tolls is published.
1944 – World War II: The first kamikaze attack. A Japanese fighter plane carrying a 200-kilogram (440 lb) bomb attacks HMAS Australia off Leyte Island, as the Battle of Leyte Gulf began.
1945 – Women’s suffrage: Women are allowed to vote in France for the first time.
1959 – The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opens to the public. Solomon Guggenheim came a from a wealthy mining family and had been collecting works of the old masters until 1926 when he met artist Hilla von Rebay and was introduced to European avant-garde art and Post-Impressionists. He then changed his collecting strategy turning to abstract and non-objective art, with works by Kandinsky, Klee and others.
Hhe turned his Plaza Hotal apartment into a gallery and as his collection grew, he established the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, in 1937, to foster the appreciation of modern art. The Museum was established in 1939 and 20 years later moved to its current location in a landmark building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
1959 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order transferring Wernher von Braun and other German scientists from the United States Army to NASA.
1983 – The metre is defined at the seventeenth General Conference on Weights and Measures as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second.
1986 – In Lebanon, pro-Iran kidnappers claim to have abducted American writer Edward Tracy (he is released in August 1991).
1994 – North Korea nuclear weapons program: North Korea and the United States sign an Agreed Framework that requires North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program and agree to inspections.
1687 – Nicolaus I Bernoulli, Swiss mathematician and theorist (d. 1759)
1833 – Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist and engineer, invented dynamite and founded the Nobel Prize (d. 1896)
1917 – Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet player, composer, and bandleader (d. 1993)
1927 – Howard Zieff, American director and photographer (d. 2009)
1969 – Jack Kerouac, American novelist and poet (b. 1922)
1984 – François Truffaut, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1932)
2012 – George McGovern, historian, lieutenant, and politician (b. 1922)
Credits include wikipedia and other internet sources