(Image courtesy of Emily Gallagher's campaign)

After the pandemic struck, Kevin Forsyth, a resident of East Williamsburg, went up to his parents’ place in Connecticut to ride out the worst of COVID-19’s spread.

Anticipating that he wasn’t going to be in Brooklyn for the Democratic primary, he then filled out an application for an absentee ballot in May. But come June 23, it still hadn’t arrived. On primary day, he decided to make the two-and-half-hour drive back into Williamsburg to vote in person.

“It was pretty absurd,” he said. “But I know those primaries matter, and these races are tight. I wanted to show up for it.”

Forsyth’s story is one of ten Emily Gallagher, a candidate for the 50th District in the state Assembly, has collected to document absentee ballot irregularities during a primary amidst a pandemic. Despite voters reporting issues with absentee ballots, Gallagher remains optimistic that these votes will clinch her first position in elected office.

Incumbent Assemblyman Joseph Lentol hopes, however, that his 15% lead over Gallagher after in-person voting won’t budge. Tomorrow, the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) will put each candidate’s optimism to the test as it begins to tally mailed-in votes across Brooklyn.


Gallagher, a community activist in North Brooklyn, is basing her cautious confidence on a correlation between the amount of votes she received per election district and the amount of absentee ballot requests filed per district. The analysis combined existing data from the city BOE and data from NGP VAN, a voter database used by the Democratic party.

“We’re feeling really confident because it looks like the areas where we have clear leadership in the numbers are the areas that also requested absentee ballots,” she said in an interview.

Although Lentol, who’s been in office for almost half a century, leads Gallagher by a little less than 1800 votes, both campaigns think the race is close enough to have requested the state Supreme Court to provide judicial supervision over the counting of absentee ballots. They each have retained legal representation. (This is a relatively common request in most races.)

“While our campaign has a sizable lead, we understand that with so many votes still to be counted, we must all respect our democratic systems and ensure every voter has their voice heard,” said Lentol in an emailed statement.

Regardless of the primary’s outcome, Lentol and Gallagher acknowledge that the state and city’s rollout of absentee ballots has been less than successful. Lentol believes that it’s important that “we expand our vote by mail system for November and beyond.” And Gallagher believes that her efforts to document voters’ struggles with absentee voting will help future elections.

As for now, all each candidate can do is wait as results start to trickle in.

“It’s been pretty anxiety inducing,” said Gallagher. “But one thing I’ve tried to appreciate about it is that it’s given me time to reflect on the election without it being attached to an outcome.”

Join the Conversation


  1. It is a shame that residents new to the area were misled about Joe Lentol’s progressive legacy, and insinuations of corruption tainted the reputation of this remarkable, humble public servant. Joe Lentol took the lead on fundamental progressive issues like marriage equality, climate change legislation, rent reform and criminal justice, prison and police reform. Joe Lentol’s legendary constituent services have brought us 3 new parks, better public schools, and supported the very fabric of North Brooklyn community. I hope we can continue to work with Joe Lentol to see the abolition of solitary confinement and the rest of his legislative priorities!

  2. I echo Kate’s comment about Joe Lentol’s long-standing track record on progressive issues and unwavering dedication to his community! He has been progressive before people called it “progressive.” I am dismayed by the allegations that he’s just an old “machine politician” who is out of touch. If you believe that, you do not know Joe! He’s held the office for a long time because, simply, the community respects Joe Lentol and knows he is a gem — a rare politician who is kind, wise, untouched by the “politics” of politics, and relentless in representing his constituents’ interests. Frankly, it is heartbreaking to think this terrific human will be removed from office because voters listened to rhetoric about change for the sake of change.

    1. I agree Lentol is the most honest politican. .I posted campaign posters of Joe on my building. Only to have Emily’s people putting her posters on my wall 5 times. I kept removing them. I have the right to support who I want. I pray that a gentlemen like Joe wins again.

  3. I have no idea who wrote this.

    Will the “Gentrifiers” Win?
    The Story of a Campaign and How it Bamboozled an Electorate

    When the final statistics are analyzed, not doubt voters for Emily Gallagher will be shown to be overwhelmingly young, white, professionals by trade, and newcomers to North Brooklyn. Yet this district is incredibly diverse, with people of color, old timers, seniors, of all professions.

    When Gallagher began her campaign, she reached out to community leadership and involved community members and they told her they supported her, but not against Joe Lentol. A minuscule number of long-time advocates are in support her campaign. Gallagher never reached out to NYCHA housing residents, or the Southside community, or Greenpoint’s remaining Latino families.

    Why? Because Joe Lentol’s effective advocacy has curbed noxious industry, brought us open space and affordable housing and met other significant needs- his exceptional constituent services have touched all these diverse pockets of the neighborhood, making him popular in the communities that need him the most. And most likely, for this reason, Gallagher did not get the support of a single elected official, local or otherwise, or the endorsement of any local group or club (NKD is no longer a local North Brooklyn organization).

    So, what did Gallagher do? She realized that the way to win–at all costs, since winning is what it is all about – was to tap into the bubble of new residents of North Brooklyn, especially within Greenpoint and the Northside of Williamsburg. And to use the time-old methods of propaganda, deception and manipulation to not only discredit Lentol, but to have the new voters believe that she is the caped crusader–regardless of the fact that her website does not even list one accomplishment.

    Gallagher realized that the way to sway the “woke” generation was to tell half-truths, give full-out deceptive information, and push skewed ideological buttons that would have these voters fill in the bubble next to her name.

    People were strategically duped. Here are the claims she made, with the deliberately implied insinuations:

    Incumbency, longevity, race and age were used to signal corruption, entrenchment, and conservative values
    Union endorsements, such as the UFT, were portrayed as corrupt PACS
    Working Families Party’s strong endorsement was dismissed as inconsequential and corrupt
    Unsolicited endorsement by Independent Workers was used to portray Lentol as supportive of Lyft and Uber
    Donations from PBAs (not even significant amounts when averaged out over time) replaced mention of the historic criminal justice reform legislation that Lentol got passed
    The repeated mantra of the Brooklyn “machine,” equating Joe Lentol with Vito Lopez, was way off base and inaccurately debased the reality of Lentol’s independent leadership and the history of past campaigns
    Silence on any record of accomplishment kept people ignorant about Lentol’s immense record of progressive legislation and community achievements

    Newcomers aren’t inherently bad. But when they come into a community and think they know what’s best for that community…that is not good. To an extent, these voters don’t know better; they were hoodwinked.

    Emily Gallagher does know better. She has been around long enough to know the record of Lentol’s progressive achievement and authentic grassroots activism with all races and ages and walks of life. And yet she has deliberately exploited the ignorance of those who do NOT know, to her advantage, using social media tactics to get to the gullible bubble, who swallowed her shallow, deceptive line.

    That is a disgrace.

    If Emily Gallagher does win—due to the yet uncounted absentee votes, the majority of which are the ones her campaign targeted with deceitful propaganda—it will be due to the support of a homogenous sliver of our community, exclusive of its diverse fabric.

    Whole portions of our community and state, who have turned to Lentol for help over the years, will have lost. The clueless “gentrifiers” will have won the election. And have no idea of what happened.

    Shame on you Emily Gallagher and your entire campaign team.

    For those who don’t know of Lentol’s just recent accomplishments:
    I was arrested. I can now have speedy trial.​
    I was arrested. I now have bail reform.
    I am 16 and was arrested. I now cannot be convicted as an adult.
    I am on trial. My attorney can now see the evidence against me.
    I am a domestic abuse victim. I have a ride home from the hospital, provided free of charge.
    I was abused by a police officer. I can use the new transparency law, STAT.
    I am convicted. I cannot be sentenced to the death penalty.
    I am in solitary confinement. I hope that Lentol gets a chance to follow through on this priority.

  4. I echo the above statements. I couldn’t believe how many people fell for some pink flyers that said nothing.

    Joe is one hell of a guy! He’s worked tirelessly for this community when it wasn’t a “destination” and the city used it as a dumping ground. Joe’s been out there- sleeves rolled up – fighting for this neighborhood to be treated fairly. He attends like every community function, listens to his constitutes, and gets really difficult things done.

    I only know Emily through her campaigning and I have to say I find her behavior deplorable and more importantly, her record non-existent. I’m still not sure what actual job she’s ever held or what EXACT success she has had “advocating” for this community.

    We don’t need more Trumpian candidates sowing discord among our communities and making up their own “truths.” If her campaign-style is emblematic of her leadership style, I can’t imagine how this neighborhood will suffer under her influence.

    My fingers are crossed Joe gets his last term. With all that is going on right now – we need a person with an unwavering moral compass that gets the things WE WANT done, NOT someone who makes great posters.

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