While crowds at local polling stations had thinned out by Tuesday evening, voters said there were large lines earlier in the day. Democratic incumbents, including Rep. Charles Rangel, swept the polls in Tuesday's elections, which were much less contested than the Democratic primaries this summer.
Rangel, who has represented Harlem for 41 years, defeated activist Craig Schley in a landslide, giving him two more years in office. Rangel had previously beaten Schley and a slew of other candidates in the June primary, but Schley decided to run against him in the general election as well, this time on the Republican ticket.
The win puts an end to a closely watched campaign for Rangel, who has been caught up in several fiscal and ethics scandals. He was also running in a district with a majority-Hispanic voting-age population for the first time due to redistricting.
Josephine Azcona, TC '92, who voted Tuesday evening at Riverside Church, said she was disappointed by her options in the congressional race. She voted for Schley over Rangel, she said, “because of all the shit” that Rangel did.
“It was the first time I voted Republican,” Azcona said. “It's not fair—I wish there were more choices.”
Meanwhile, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who also challenged Rangel in the Democratic primary and lost by a narrow margin, came out on top in his bid to retain his Upper Manhattan state senate seat, garnering more than 90 percent of the vote and securing the seat for two more years. Rep. Jerry Nadler, who represents Morningside Heights in the House of Representatives, was also elected to another two-year term.
Local State Assembly members Daniel O'Donnell, Keith Wright, and Herman Farrell all ran unopposed, securing their seats for the next two years. State Senator Bill Perkins also ran unopposed and will continue to represent District 30, which includes parts of Morningside Heights and Harlem.
Matico Josephson voted with his father at 390 Riverside Drive, where he grew up. He said that he waited in line for at least half an hour.
“There were about 100 people here until late afternoon,” Josephson said. “There was already a long line at 9 a.m., maybe as early as 8. It was long all day long.”
Obama referenced the long lines across the country in his victory speech Tuesday night, saying that “we have to fix that.”
At Columbia's Wien Hall, lines had declined by Tuesday evening.
“Up until 12, it was pretty full,” poll worker Heungman Kwan said. “It's slowed down a little but it never stops—people always keep coming.”
Anna Rosen, who lives on 111th Street, took her daughter Annabelle with her to 390 Riverside to vote on Tuesday evening. Rosen said that her daughter voted in a mock election on Monday at school.
“It was good, I'm excited,” Rosen said. “She just went [to vote] with her dad about an hour ago. She's going through the process.”
Rosen added that the vote scanners were “very easy and effective.”
“We literally just walked in and walked out,” she said.
Some voters, though, criticized the dim lighting in the voting booths.
“The lights are bad, the text is too small, so the system for old people is really terrible,” Lauren Taylor, BC '70, SSW '74, and GSAS '12, said.
For most Morningside Heights and West Harlem residents, Obama was the easy choice for president. Fatima Dierro, who wasn't old enough to vote in 2008, cast her ballot for Obama, saying that it took her between 15 and 20 minutes to vote.
“I'm looking forward to the results,” Dierro, who voted at 390 Riverside around 8 p.m., said. “I'm not nervous. Obama's got this.”
Even though Azcona voted against Rangel, she remained solidly Democratic in her presidential choice.
“My man is Obama,” she said, breaking into a wide grin.