Photo: Audrey Carleton. Volunteers from the World Central Kitchen handed out sandwiches to early voters at the Bronx Regional High School.

Fearing long lines and contentious results, some South Bronx voters headed to the polls early

Despite long lines at New York City early voting stations splattered across social media, crowds were minimal over the course of the week at the Bronx County Supreme Court House and the Andrew Freedman Home, both on the Grand Concourse, and the Bronx Regional High School on Rev. James A. Polite Ave. in Longwood.

Guided by heavy signage and arrows plastered around polling stations, residents told The Mott Haven Herald it felt crucial to make their voices heard.  

“We know that our vote is not going to swing the presidential race, but there was a certain amount of pride I had in showing up today,” said Molly Hepburn, 27, who voted at the courthouse on Oct. 28.

Hepburn is one of numerous South Bronx voters who strove to ensure that her vote was counted in time for a controversial election. LaKisha Hall, 46, also opted to vote early at the Freedman House on Saturday, Oct. 31 and was pleasantly surprised by how fast the process was.

“This was so easy: in and out,” Hall said. “I’m so mad we waited so long. We don’t know what November 3 is going to bring. So why not?”

Volunteers from joined poll workers and election officials to help make voting as seamless as possible. Standing a few feet away from polling stations, they doled out free masks and donated sandwiches to curb the spread of COVID-19 and keep voters fed if they had multi-hour waits in lines.

Kenneth McParlan, 47, owner of Glenroy Lunch and Tavern, handed out free meals at polling stations across the South Bronx all week. “I think it just really helps the elderly, the handicapped.”

Some early voters were also assisted by local outreach services well before stepping foot into a polling place. More TK.

“I wasn’t even planning on being here today; I was going to come next Tuesday,” said Iggy Lopez, 42, who voted at the Bronx County Supreme Court on Oct. 28. “But I got a call from someone letting me know how close I was to an early voting location, and I figured I would get it done.”

Despite help from volunteers, early voting was not without issue for all South Bronx residents.

Ilearys Fernandez, 21, was turned away from Bronx Regional High School after learning she went to the wrong polling station based on her address.

“I have to go to the courthouse,” she called to a friend, dismayed, as she walked out of the high school. Fernandez, who balances full-time school at TK college and work as a TK, told the Herald that despite her busy schedule, she was heading straight to the correct voting site a TK-minute walk away.

“I think we definitely need it now,” she says, of her vote. “This year more than ever.”

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