Scenes from Election 2016: NYC and Its Suburbs

Election Day finally arrived, and with it, New York City voters cast their ballots. Lines snaked around the blocks of stations throughout the city and New Yorkers gathered around the city to watch the results. NYCity Lens talked to many at the polls and around the city. 

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At the Polls for the First Time

Emily Apterbach, 20, sits with her friends outside Hunter College’s library with an “I voted” sticker on her forehead. As the placement of her election day token would suggest, this psychology major from Park Slope has politics on her mind.

She takes the election seriously. Although it’s her first time voting, she’s always been politically engaged. “Yeah, my mom’s a lawyer,” she says, nodding. Along with her upbringing, Apterbach had specific reasons for voting today. “The fact that Trump would nominate conservative judges and that he’s anti-abortion” brought her out to the polls.

After articulating these concerns about Trump, she says that her peers don’t take him seriously enough. “I just hate it when people mash-up what Trump says to make it funny because it’s actually terrifying.” She says this in an impassioned tone, the sticker still on her forehead.

College students in New York City, many of them first-time voters and Bernie Sanders supporters, hit the polls on Election Day determined to have their nascent political beliefs heard.meshulamkalya

John Hagarty, 21, a pre-med student studying psychology at NYU from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, voted for the first time today in a presidential election. “I think I’m ready for it to be over,” he said. “I was a Bernie supporter in the primary.” His eyes looked down as he smiled. “Realizing Hillary wasn’t a complete monster was a real emotional hurdle for me.”

For Kalya Meshulam, 20, an undeclared Georgetown student and also a former Bernie supporter, ended up voting for a third party candidate because she said she didn’t like either of them.

“Why should I vote for them,” she says. “I’ll just throw away my vote.”   Joseph Hong

Party as if the world is ending …or not

MANHATTAN – At the usually busy hour of 11 p.m., the bartenders at The Tonic Bar, a few blocks from Times Square, restlessly inspected the half-dozen full beer glasses on the counter. The mingling drinkers had turned into statues, hypnotized by the many TV screens that lit up the bar in colors of red and blue.

In a matter of hours, as the election results unfolded and Donald Trump’s upset victory became clearer, the cheerfulness of the crowd, made of mostly of European expats working in New York, had turned to a mix of surprise, confusion, and distress.

In an attempt to lighten the atmosphere, one of the bartenders turned to the guests, with her palms facing the ceiling in a pose of hopelessness, exclaiming: “I apologize for my country guys!”

The gathering was an organized Election Night event, billed as the party’s host expressed it:  a chance to “watch the world be saved from the nightmare of Trump being elected or alternatively party like the world is ending.”

The silence in the oval-shaped local bar was only interrupted by short-lived burst of cheers as occasional Democratic victories injected some frail hope into the crowd. But as the networks called one state after another in Trump’s column, and the prospects of a red victory dawned on the crowd of roughly 200 Europeans, no one seemed in the mood for partying, much less partying as if it was last time.

Most seemed anxious and puzzled by what was happening in the country they now call home.

“We have seen how bad it could get,” said Mark Hoffman, 28, from Berlin. “The U.S. is just a baby and has never experienced first-hand how hatred can infect a whole country. But if this goes south, they may soon get some that first-hand experience.”

Alain Furcajg, 35, from Paris was certain Trump’s candidacy would not have played well in France.

“The Republican party is very far away from what we believe in,” said Alain Furcajg, 35, from Paris. “Although he’s a billionaire, he talks and acts like an uncultured person,” said Furcajg. “French people could never sympathize with that, and less understand how he’s made it into politics.”

As the news broke that Trump had won Florida, there were no screams of denouncement or booing, just a mellow murmur that continued as the merged crowd separated into their little groups and slowly started making their way towards the exit.

A Spanish-looking guy made an emotionless joke about getting deported, a blonde girl in a Hillary cap spoke comforting words in Russian to her crying friend, and the bartenders looked over the bar one last time, and then started counting the night’s meager profit. – Carl-Johan Henry Karlsson

Pantsuit Nation Fever

MANHATTAN – “Hill-ar-y! Hill-ar-y! HILL-AR-Y!” shouted a group 25 New Yorkers, mostly women, in colorful pantsuits, as they posed in the middle of the street outside the Soho House, a boutique hotel in New York City. It was 12:30 p.m. on Election Day, and they blocked traffic as they banded together, holding up signs and stopping taxicabs dead in their tracks.

Towering above the group at six feet seven inches stood one man, Dennis Kwan, 34. “Fierce, fierce!
” he said, almost as excited as they were. His camera lens zeroed in on the smiles emerging out of pantsuits in all colors–some red and white, some black and sparkly, some polka-dotted. Kwan, a bi-coastal headshot and wedding photographer, was experiencing historic Election Day through the lens of the Pantsuit Nation movement.

“I’m loving this,” Kwan said.img_3522

 

Three days ago Kwan, had no idea that he would be single-handedly organizing a professional photography effort for one of the biggest social media movements sweeping across the country: Pantsuit Nation. What started as a secret Facebook group by Maine resident Libby Chamberlain a mere 18 days ago, Pantsuit Nation has grown to over 2.6 million members, earning it the current spot as the world’s largest Facebook group.

Members of the group are encouraged to post personal reflections, stories, and encounters about what Hillary Clinton means to them, says Chamberlain. And, most importantly, wear pantsuits on the day of the election in solidarity of their suit-sporting candidate.

After Kwan was invited to the Facebook group, which has now earned national coverage in publications from the Los Angeles Times to the Washington Post, he quickly realized that the group’s creator, Chamberlain, was an old friend he attended boarding school with in Massachusetts. Kwan immediately reached out to her to see if he could put his his camera to use to channel the movement into something bigger.

He began contacting photographers he knew from across the country to organize over 88 local shoots to turn the group’s media presence, which had previously consisted of iPhone selfies, into a flurry of professional pantsuit portraiture.

Kwan has compiled all of the photography from the different photographers onto his website, where the women and men involved in the movement can download their pictures. He hopes that members will be able to get a profile pic out of it.

“The goal is to generate excitement,” he said. “And to also get a lot of likes.” -Eva Andersen

Part of the Pantsuit Brigade

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SCARSDALE – Dressed in black pants and a blue coat, India-born Svati Shashank walked in for her first vote as an American citizen at the Fox Meadow school polling booth in Scarsdale at 8.30 a.m. in the morning on Election Day.

“My pant suit clearly states who I support.” said Shashank.

Shashank came to the United States on a student visa nearly 20 years ago but got her citizenship only in 2013. “I became a citizen because of Obama,” said Shashank. “It was incredible that a mixed-race, not black, person became the president of the United States.”

A lawyer by profession, Shashank likes Hillary Clinton’s policies and experience, and it is an added bonus, she says, that Clinton will become the first woman president of the U.S.

“I cannot get over why this was not a slam dunk election for Clinton,” she said.

Shashank intended to get back home early from work to watch the election results with her two teenage daughters. She is cautiously optimistic that Clinton will win, and the sun will shine a little brighter tomorrow. And if Trump wins, “ The country will not go to hell,” said Shashank. “ We will only take many steps back, undoing all the hard work that democracy has brought to us.”   – Preeti Singh

 So Near and Yet So Far

On Election Day, Hunter student Mohamat Alfatih, 36, from Chad, who is here taking English language classes, couldn’t get over that the day felt almost normal. “In my country, everything shuts down,” he said.

He came to the United States 10 months ago, and he regrets that he was not able to vote this election. He’s eager to talk about American politics, a system that is much more democratic than that of his native country.alfatihmahamat

“I’m coming from a country where a president can serve for 20 years,” Alfatih says. “You can’t be the right president for 20 years.”

Because most of his friends on Facebook are living in Chad, Alfatih has not been inundated by this election on social media, but he does share American news with his friends back home.

“I keep telling them things here are different,” he said.  –—- Joseph Hong

We Might Need a Rethink

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SCARSDALE – Working from home on Tuesday morning, registered Republican Nevin Kaplan was all set to cast his vote.  The 54-year-old Kaplan said he is voting Democrat this time. “ I believe in the Republican values of low taxes and less government control,” said Kaplan. “But the party has been in steady decline for years now.”

Kaplan, who grew up in Scarsdale, said this election has been just too nasty for him. “How is it that Trump found something nasty with every Republican contender,” said Kaplan. “But no one found anything on him?”

As Kaplan walked to the polling booth, he added, “How did we get here? This country has to do a serious re-think.”  —Preeti Singh

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