In just a few hours, Grace Meng may know whether she will be the U.S. Representative-elect from the 6th Congressional District in Queens, New York, but any election day anxiety the candidate may have been feeling was unapparent when she arrived with her husband and children to vote at PS 214 at 140th Street in Queens.
“I feel good,” said Meng, wearing a bejeweled American flag pin that was a gift from her grandmother. “This morning we were at a bunch of subway stations, and I felt more encouraged than I expected to.”
Meng said that many of the people she spoke with had already voted by 7:30 a.m., and told her they cast their ballots in her favor.
But while Meng stood patiently with her husband, Wayne Kye, and sons, Brandon and Tyler, in the line of her would-be constituents that looped back and forth across the gymnasium at PS 214, many around her grew increasingly impatient.
“I guess it’s a good problem that we have so many people that want to exercise their right to vote, which is a great thing,” said Meng. “Maybe we need to focus on how to make the Board of Elections a more efficient process for everyone.”
Long lines and frustrated voters have plagued polling places across the city, as this year’s redistricting and the devastation of last week’s Hurricane Sandy have combined to lead to create confusion over where and how New Yorkers can vote.
“People are concerned about finding the right polling sites, which of course is a problem that precedes the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” said Meng.
While Meng waited upwards of an hour to receive her ballot, her opponent, Republican Dan Halloran, released a statement alerting members of the media that a Korean Board of Elections interpreter had been removed from polling place PS 20 in Flushing after it was discovered he was instructing voters to vote for President Barack Obama and local Democrats.
The accusation comes in the final hours of a campaign where Meng’s cultural identity and ties to the local Asian-American community have played a major role.
““If there’s any signs of fraud at any poll sites in any district, they should be reported to the Board of Elections immediately,” said Meng.
As lines continued to grow, many expressed irritation with the process, including one voter who exclaimed, “This is why this country sucks!” from the crowd.
Meng’s children squirmed as they waited for their parents to collect their ballots from officials.
“He said he just wants water,” explained Wayne Kye, as his son Brandon slouched at his feet.
But Meng, who stands the chance to make history this evening, remained calm and talked to voters enthusiastically, thanking them for their patience.
“I’m feeling very confident and very grateful for the tremendous support and encouragement that we’ve been receiving throughout this district and I’m really excited for a positive outcome tonight and the privilege to represent our community in Congress.”