First-Time Voters Excited to Cast Their Vote in Canarsie

Voters across the region turned out for the midterm elections on Nov. 8 across New York City. Photo by Chloe Hernandez.


Isaac Bildersee Junior High School in Canarsie didn’t look like it was ready to host hundreds of local residents turning out to vote on election day.  This polling place in particular, located on Flatlands Avenue, was heavily scaffolded and guarded by fencing, however decorated by signage indicating the entrance to the voting site. Still, residents came out to vote. 

Danasia McKenzie of Canarsie, who is a retired nurse and resident said that she cast her vote in hopes of finding a Governor who will keep the neighborhood safe. McKenzie says as a nurse, there were many times that she had to take care of and diagnose injuries in the younger population around the neighborhood. As a grandmother of seven children, she says that she once lived in fear that any one of her grandchildren would show up to the hospital she worked in, because of the constant violence on the streets. 

“Especially living in Canarsie, you know, at the late hours we have police patrolling the block now. That’s a good thing, because you always think something is going to happen. We need that kind of protection, and if that’s what my vote can guarantee, then I know who I’m going for,” McKenzie said. 

Although the “Vote NYC” sidewalk stickers indicated a hypothetical line direction, as well as standing points for anticipated voters to wait for entry, there was not much of a line.. Foot traffic seemed to be slow at 12pm., although there were a few local residents approaching from both sides of the street. Outside, stood two polling volunteers giving directions and answering questions from citizens. 

This year’s election  attracted voters of all ages, some who also happened to be first time-voters excited to make a difference. 

Kamir Knightley, a high school student in Canarsie anticipated turning 18 years old over the summer, so that he would finally be of age to cast his vote. Knightley said he feels as if it is a full-circle moment for him, because he was once a student at the school now being used as a polling site. 

“It’s cool that this is the place I get to vote, so it makes a difference to me. A younger version of me would have never been interested in coming to vote because I always thought it didn’t matter. Now that I’m older, I like to think about what a younger version of me would have wanted to see in this city,” Knightley said. “I used to run the block with my friends a lot and I cleaned myself up, now we need somebody to help us all clean up.”