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11/ 7/06

4:19 PM

Stump Stories 

No Third Parties in Queens

The deceptively undercrowded Astoria Pool.Courtesy of the City of New York/Parks and Recreation

Two and a half blocks before I reached P.S. 85 in Astoria today, I was handed a leaflet imploring me to vote the Democratic ticket. Right outside the polling place, a woman was offering a handout relating to education. I refused. "You'll have children someday," she warned. She may have a point, so I took one on the way out. Turns out it was an advertisement for a tutoring program. I felt somewhat duped, but also very American.

The polling place was, as usual, staffed by foreign-born citizens, a cheerful consequence of living in Queens. Next to my name in the roll book were the letters "BLA." A subcontinental man asked me, "What does 'BLA' mean? Black?"

I am so very white. "It means 'blank,'" I told him. "I'm an independent. Not affiliated with a party."

"Ah, yes," he nodded without conviction and escorted me to a booth.

Aileen Gallagher

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