Midnight at the Board of Elections

Midnight last night was the deadline to hand in petitions to the city Board of Elections, at 32 Broadway, to qualify to get on the ballot. I arrived with just a few minutes to spare.
The seventh floor was uncharacteristically calm. A few B.O.E. aides were hanging out. A candidate was handing in his paperwork. The clock on the wall was ticking away.
Here's something you don't see everyday: a challenge to the petitions submitted by someone running for mayor on the Conservative Party line. For some, it's a ballot line worth fighting over.
Has finally arrived, and not a moment too soon for some employees. But for many, this was just the start of the evening.
The guy in the executive-looking shirt behind the counter is Steve Richman, general counsel at the Board of Elections. He's been around for ages (started in politics as a teenager) and manages to keep an affable demeanor at all times. Even when getting yelled at by very important people.
Here you can see Steve Richman's badge, which may or may not have spurred people to hurry up. In the background is B.O.E. spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez. She's been there for a while, but missed the last few years of this ritual. One for a wedding. Another because she was having a child. This year, no excuses.
"It's 12:03. That's it. We're closed," said Richman. But a few candidates already in the office were given a few more minutes to put their paperwork in order.
That's City Council candidate Stephen Levin, of Brooklyn, leaning against the wall. In the background is a candidate struggling to bind dozens, if not hundreds, of pages of petitions.
Once candidates were (politely) kicked out, Board of Election employees and an ensemble of others went into the back offices. Officially, employees were there to make copies of petitions, which will be used later if any legal challenges are raised. And there's always a few.

I'm not sure if I was supposed to be there, so I kept my photography to a minimum. But this was where the who's who of local elections specialists are hanging out. Michael Reich and Frank Bolz of the Queens County Democratic Organization were there, as was the enyclopedic Jerry Skurnik. Former state senator Marty Connor, an election lawyer, was there too.

Among the people looking busy back there were Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic county leader, and J.C. Polanco, a Republican from the Bronx.
More petition work was being done on the sixth floor. I wasn't allowed in because it was just for employees. But the folks I spoke with said employees were likely to be there around the clock, making copies and logging information. Fun!
While B.O.E. employees took smoke breaks and vented about the long hours, Reich and Bolz left. It was around 12:30 a.m. and they seemed to be carrying some paperwork. They were among the first people to leave.
Jerry Skurnik caught a ride from Stanley Schlein, a well-connected lawyer in the Bronx. He and an aide left with an armload of photocopied petitions. Some work never ends.
Bronx Republican Chairman Jay Savino can't leave without saying goodbye to everyone he knows. It took him a while. He knows a lot of people.
It was 1 a.m. Marty Connor had wheeled his small luggage up Broadway. City Councilman Robert Jackson and two district leaders from his part of Manhattan also left. Employees who had a long night ahead were milling about on the sidewalk. Most said it wasn't as crazy or busy as in previous years.
I called it quits at about 1:30 a.m. The B.O.E. employees stayed.

Here’s the scene last night at the city Board of Elections office in Manhattan, where candidates hoping to qualify for this year’s ballot tried submitting petitions before the midnight deadline.

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