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NYC Early Voting, Now Some Relief, Letter from the Front


NYC early voting 2020 won some relief, last night, and we’ve got a letter from the front. An exhausted and beleaguered Judith Berdy shares her story.

By David Stone

Late last night, October 29th, Our Town, reported that efforts by state assembly member Rebecca Seawright will bring some relief to the Upper East Side.

But first, let’s hear from Berdy on the other side of the voting booth…

“It is 11 p.m. Thursday night. I have to be awake at 4:30 a.m.,” Berdy wrote.

Judith Berdy
Judith Berdy at Cornell Tech Maker Lab in 2018.

“For the last 6 days, I have been working at the NYC Early Voting Poll site at Wagner JHS on East 75th Street.  We have had about 3,000 voters per day.”

She added, “People have waited up to 5 hours to vote this week.  It has been an experience like no other.”

Friday, Saturday and Sunday remain for NYC Early Voting, but Berdy’d not yet heard the good news

Seawright to the rescue for NYC early voting on the Upper East Side

News reports have the Upper East Side as the hardest hit with long lines, but that changes, this weekend.

Seawright waded into the early voting morass, independently persuading Marymount Manhattan college to open up for voters on Saturday and Sunday. That could bring sweet relief to the lines on East 75th Street, which have wound around the block, even in the rain.

But it should surprise no one that the cranky, inefficient board of elections balked.

That, Seawright said, “is unacceptable. I’m bringing this lawsuit on behalf of the thousands of voters of the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island who have been discriminated against by the violation of the Board of Elections simply not following the statute and the election law.”

State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright
State assembly member Rebecca Seawright forced BOE to help more in NYC early voting.

Under threat, the BOE acquiesced.

Manhattan Marymount on the map.

But back to our local heroine, Judith Berdy

“Most every person thanks us for working between 10 and 13 hours a day in a junior high school gymnasium,” she said.

“I am at the Affidavit Desk.  That is the problem center. I think of it as the Lost Luggage Office at the Airport.  People come to me and find they have been standing for hours and are at the wrong site.

“Some are furious, some are discouraged, some are stoic.  My cohorts Susan, Andrea Jackson( also from Roosevelt Island) and Ralph are patient and courteous. We let them vent. It is easy and polite to do so,” Berdy said. 

“We resolve problems, find misspelled names, wrong addresses. We offer alternatives  We quote election law when needed. Rarely do we have to call in the big guns.”

Berdy continued in the positive spirit we’ve seen from her over years of robust volunteer work.

“I have met the nicest, most appreciative voters.  Islanders stop by on their way to enter and exit. A quick hello and back to the line.

“I am proud of our 60 person staff, some who are getting rained on helping maintain the waiting line.”

And then, she sighed, “Three more days and I better get some sleep now.”

And there’s even more good news for NYC early voting

According to the Our Town report…

“The board has also added more hours to its schedule for the rest of the week. Voters can visit their respective polling site from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.”

A big round of applause for Rebecca Seawright, and as for our friend, Judith Berdy, after finishing her weekend work at the school, she’ll head up the team at PS/IS 217 on Roosevelt Island on Tuesday.

Before NYC early voting ever became a thing, she’s always been there.

Give her a nod and a thank you, if, like me, you’re waiting to voting on the traditional day.

Then, leave her alone for a few days so she can get some sleep.

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