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Voting in the South Bronx, Names Not on Lists, Few Choices on Paper Ballots

Byline: Matthew R. Lee of Inner City Press: News Analysis

SOUTH BRONX, November 4 -- The grandeur of the right to vote, at least for some in New York's South Bronx on November 4, was tawdry, disorganized and gave little confidence even that votes would be counted. A long-time polling place in a public school on Southern Boulevard was locked shut, with no signs directing those who arrived to vote as they had in past years to any new location. A security guard ambled over and pointed across a parking lot at another school.

    "It's there this year," he said. But there were two locked fences between the two schools, requiring a search for two sets of keys. The excited chatter about Democratic nominee Barack Obama was quickly changing to complaints about the NYC Board of Elections, even, against Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

  The previous day at City Hall in Manhattan, speaker after speaker excoriated Bloomberg for overriding term limits to seek the Mayoralty for a third time next year. Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron called it a "disgrace," and told the nonplussed Bloomberg "I'll see you on the battlefield." A pedi-cab cyclists trashed both Bloomberg and the treatment of carriage horses. A rabbi was wheeled out to praise the Mayor. In these times of financial crisis, it was said, we need him. In this case, apparently, the Change We Can Believe In is just four more years of the same.

This machine, seen in primary, was denied to some Bronx voters

  Once in the second school, in a gymnasium with basketball hoops without nets, numerous long-time South Bronx voters were told that their names "were not on the list this year," and to vote by affidavit. This was to be filled out in a pseudo voting booth constructed of three pieces of cardboard, a mere 11 inches high.

   The paper ballot offered very few choices: a long-time Assemblyman getting rubber-stamped to return to Albany, two judges few had ever heard of, and at the top the presidential contest. Would Bob Barr get even a single vote in this South Bronx district? Would Ralph Nader? Would these paper ballots even be counted.

  "Oh, definitely," a matronly poll watcher assured. But how were the voters to know?

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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