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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Primary Postcard: Poll Coordinators Says Candidates Didn't Campaign Enough

A lack of candidate advertising - at least until the very last minute - may be one reason why the expected voter turnout is low, poll workers say.

Early this afternoon I visited several polling sites in the 14th District. Fernando Cabrera appeared to be making the most effort. His truck was spotted driving along Jerome and University avenues, blasting out loud Spanish music and a recorded audio clip of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. vouching for the candidate. The clip was repeated over and over.

While Cabrera appeared the most visual candidate, Maria Baez’s camp seemed more vocal. Close to each polling station, she had volunteers handing out flyers and asking passersby to vote for her. The flyers included this quote by Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president: "Nobody will take care of her neighborhoods as well as Maria Baez." Her blue and red posters blanketed Burnside Avenue. There was the odd Cabrera one too. In fact, Cabrera's face has taken over a bus shelter on Burnside at Jerome Avenue.

Yudelka Tapia’s posters were plastered on gates, street lamps and buildings near Webster Avenue on 180th Street, but aside from that seemed in short supply, at least where I went.

Despite these last ditch efforts, turnout has been low, poll coordinators said. At PS 163 on East 180th Street off Webster Avenue only 78 voters had cast their vote, as of 2 p.m. Perhaps the low numbers can be party explained by the fact that station is dimly and well hidden. Or, as the poll coordinator there said, because the candidates haven't done a good job of getting their names out there (until today, that is). “Some voters [will] come after 5pm, when they get out of work,” said the coordinator, Luis Rivera. “The candidates didn’t work hard enough, though. We expected more people.”

My next stop was PS 79, which was just as dead. The midday vote count was only 132. A block away, Baez volunteers said they noticed poll workers lounging around outside since there was little to do in the station.

Added Ella Stewart, a poll coordinator at PS 26 on Andrews Avenue.“It really wasn’t advertised enough, we haven’t heard anything."

The voters - the few that turned out this afternoon - seemed non-plussed by their 14th District conditions. “It’s very necessary to vote, but I didn’t vote for anyone new in particular since I didn’t hear much about the candidates," said Laurez Morales, 39, at PS 26. She said she voted for Baez because the name was familiar.

She added, “I’m really confused about the candidates.”



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