By Dan Rivoli
Most of the races West Siders will be voting for are foregone conclusions.
Democrats are expected to trounce their Republican opponents in the two Senate races and Andrew Cuomo is a lock for governor. Locally, state legislators will walk into a new two-year term.
There are nearly a hundred heated House races throughout the country that will decide which party controls Congress. But West Side Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Charlie Rangel are safe bets.
Still, Upper West Side voters lived up to their reputation and came to the polls. Home to the most loyal of Democratic voters, a good turnout could only help Eric Schneiderman, the liberal Upper West Side state senator locked in a tight race for attorney general, and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who faces a strong challenge from Republican Harry Wilson. (West Side Spirit went to press before election night results were announced.)
A poll worker outside of P.S. 87 on West 78th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues said additional hands were called in to help with the higher than usual turn out for the morning, lunch time and evening rush.
“You expect a big turnout for what we call a major election,” said Council Senior Center volunteer Florence Kohn, referring to the 2008 presidential race. “I think we have a pretty good turnout.”
Kohn, who quoted the adage that those who don’t voting can’t complain, said she was dedicated to getting out the vote for her favorite candidates. She did, however, have choice words for Carl Paladino, the Republican gubernatorial nominee that she and other West Side voters would not mention by name.
“It’s offensive to even have someone like that on the ballot,” Kohn said.
In a city where Democrats rarely have competitive general elections, there were Upper West Side voters that wanted to show their support for progressivism.
Richard Levenson said it was important to vote against the conservative Tea Party activists and Paladino, “the great ‘genius’ from Buffalo.” Levenson voted straight down the Working Families Party line, which cross-endorsed Democrats this year.
“I like to vote for the liberal left-leaning party,” Levenson said.
Despite being a tenant lawyer who likes “rent to be low,” Levenson opted for Cuomo over the Rent Is Too Damn High Party’s candidate for governor, Jimmy McMillan.
But there was more on the line this election day than just the election of candidates. This is the second time New Yorkers used new scanning machines that read paper ballots marked by voters.
The new voting method had a rocky debut during the Sept. 14 primary as machines broke down, malfunctioned or jammed with a paper ballot. Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the primary day operation a “royal screw up” that was “unacceptable.”
But there were some reoccurring complaints about the ballot this year.
“It’s not laid out particularly well,” said Peter Chapin, who had voted at P.S. 87. “The type is too small.”
But Sally Cohen called the paper ballot and the electronic scanning machine the “best of both worlds.”
“It’s worked beautifully today,” Cohen said. “I know the primaries had problems.”
Though Cohen said that the candidates she voted for are on track to winning Nov. 2, she wants a high turnout on the West Side.
“The more noise we can make,” Cohen said, “the better.”