Guillermo Belalcazar didn’t mind when he found out that the address at which he had been told to vote was not a real polling place. He didn’t mind walking down to the street to P.S. 130, and waiting an hour in line to vote there.
But he did mind when, at the end of that line, he was told that he had come to the wrong place—again.
“I got this address—249 Caton Ave.—so I took the bus all the way up there. But when I got there, the guy told me ‘A lot of people have come here, but we don’t have voting here. Why don’t you go down the road?’”
Such was the beginning of a very long morning for Belalcazar, who, like several others, read the address of his polling site to be "249 Caton Avenue," when in fact the proper location was "P.S. 249," located along Caton Avenue and Marlborough Road. (See the picture posted at right.)
It was around 9 a.m. when Belalcazar took the bus from his home on 18th St. near Church Avenue to what he believed was his local polling place—249 Caton Ave., which, from the outside, appears to be Brooklyn Prospect Charter School.
Belalcazar arrived at the school—officially located at 3002 Ft. Hamilton Pkwy.—only to find that it wasn’t a polling place at all. A security guard, trying to help, sent him down the road to P.S. 130.
It was only once he'd reached the end of the lengthy line at P.S. 130 that Belalcazar learned the truth.
“This place is not that far from my house,” he said, referring to P.S. 249. “But the loop that I have gone, and the walking and the stress?” He shook his head.
Alison Morea, a site coordinator at P.S. 130, said Belalcazar was the third person she’d seen make the same mistake that morning.
“It says P.S. 249 Caton Ave. It really should say say P.S. 249, 18 Marlborough Rd. I wish I could go to 249 Caton and tell them, ‘Stop sending the people here. Send them to 18 Marlborough!’” She waved her hand toward the snaking line of voters. “But as you can see, that’s not going to happen.”
Morea said that she will be sure to file the issue with the Board of Elections once the day is over. But for right now, she has no choice but to send displaced voters away.
“I’m very sympathetic,” she said. “But they are misreading it."
Matt Holmes, a security guard at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, said a handful of people had come by the school to vote Tuesday morning. Knowing that P.S. 130—only three blocks away—was a polling place, he tried to help by sending people there.
“I was happy I could tell them to go that way, but I guess I shouldn’t be doing that,” he said.
It was 11 a.m. by the time Belalcazar found himself in line at P.S. 249, having spent another 30 minutes commuting by bus.
The line wrapped around the school, stretching down Church Avenue, meaning it would be at least an hour before he saw the inside of a ballot booth.
A less committed voter may have thrown in the towel—and who could blame them? But Belalcazar was not prepared to give up; this election means too much, he said.
“I don’t mind spending another 2 hours or 3 hours, as long as I get to vote today,” he said. “One vote counts.”