Election Day in the Bronx

Bronxites gather to watch election results at Beso Lounge.

Bronxites gather to watch election results at Beso Lounge.

By Lennin Reyes

For many Bronxites, Tuesday November 6 meant one thing — preventing Republican challenger Mitt Romney from defeating Democratic President Barack Obama.

Bronxites lined up at their polling sites, often waiting for hours and dealing with occasional confusion. “Some of the workers misled voters,” said Lehman social work junior Chasity Sanchez, 22, of her voting site, P.S. 46 in Fordham. Some poll workers said to vote for Obama, Sanchez explained, breaking the electioneering rule, which prohibits staff or voters from stating a preference for candidates.

Others said poll workers were just plain rude.  “Some of the poll workers talked to us as if we were delinquents,” Chelsea Matias, 19, a first-time voter said, discussing the atmosphere at her voting site, P.S. 310. “It took me about an hour to vote.”

Matias was accompanied by her mother, Mildred, 52.  While Mildred voted for the U.S. president, her mind was also on her native land, Puerto Rico, where the residents were voting on a referendum over the island’s relationship with the United States. Puerto Rico is currently a U.S. commonwealth. “I would prefer statehood because Puerto Ricans already have some of the benefits,” Mildred Matias said.

Carlos Sierra (center) and other attendees look on for election results.

Carlos Sierra (center) and other attendees look on for election results.

As voting was in its final hour, some Bronxites and pols gathered at Norwood’s Beso Lounge to see the results of the presidential election. “It’s not how we start, it’s how we finish,” Bronx Young Democrats President John Zaccaro said.

Zaccaro was right, as early results showed Romney leading Obama by 12 electoral votes with wins in many Midwestern states (where polls closed at 8 p.m.). But after the stream of red victories came a blue streak as Obama won electoral votes in the Northeastern states, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “That’s what they [Republicans] get,”  said Bronx Democratic County Committee Executive Director Ischia Bravo, referring to Pennsylvania’s failed attempt to implement voter identification cards. Critics said the move was meant to discourage Democratic-leaning minority voters from going to the polls.

Bronx court victors (l. to r.) Eddie McShan, Linet Rosado, Nelida Malave-Gonzalez and Fernando Tapia

Bronx court victors (l. to r.) Eddie McShan, Linet Rosado, Nelida Malave-Gonzalez and Fernando Tapia

Two major electoral victories had the Beso Lounge crowd cheering. The first was when Obama won Massachusetts, his challenger’s home state. The second was the most coveted state of all — Ohio — whose growing Latino population played a pivotal role in the election’s outcome.  A little after 11 PM, 86th Assembly District State Committeeman James Duarte told the crowd, “That’s all folks!”

CNN: "Obama will be re-elected!"

CNN: “Obama will be re-elected!”

Seconds later, CNN projected Obama’s re-election. After chants of “four more years” died down, Rosa Ayala noted that Obama won without the help of a state that has been crucial in elections past. “Florida hasn’t been decided yet,” she said.

In the end, not only did President Obama win Florida, but Puerto Ricans on the island voted for statehood. “It’s gonna become another Hawaii,” Jose Ramos, 62, said.

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