The city’s Board of Elections announced it would double the number of early voting polling sites from seven to 14 after complaints from state Senator Michael Gianaris and several elected officials in northeast Queens that the original plan was inadequate.
Gianaris held a press conference at LaGuardia Community College in early May where he complained that seven polling sites were simply not enough for voters in Queens, which has the second-highest population in the state (by county) and the largest geographic area in the city.
Under the state’s new voting law, Queens residents will be able to begin casting their votes nine days before Election Day this year but the BOE plan had too few locations, and “the few sites chosen are not even convenient for many residents,” Gianaris wrote in a letter to the BOE.
“Seven polling sites for more than 2 million people is an affront to democracy. The Board of Elections plan deserves a recount,” Gianaris said at his press conference. “We passed this law to make it easier for millions of New Yorkers to vote. The Board of Elections needs to step up so more New Yorkers will vote.”
Gianaris was angered that just a single location was originally planned for all of western Queens, at LaGuardia Community College. On Thursday, the BOE announced it would add a second location in Gianaris’ district, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
“I am glad more voters will have the chance to vote now that additional poll sites have been added,” Gianaris said. “While we need even more going forward, doubling the initial proposal is a step in the right direction.”
The BOE also added a polling site in Bayside, at the Korean Community Services located at 203-05 32nd Avenue, after Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein fired off a letter to the BOE complaining that voters in eastern Queens were being overlooked.
The original plan had just one early voting polling site in all of northeast Queens, at the Al Oerter Recreational Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park several miles away from voters in Bayside, Fresh Meadows, Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Whitestone, Oakland Gardens, Douglaston and Little Neck.
Other new locations announced by the BOE on Thursday include the Cross Island YMCA in Bellerose, the First Baptist Church in East Elmhurst, Holy Trinity Parish Church in Cambria Heights, the New York Hall of Science in Corona and the Rochdale Village Community Center in Jamaica.
The original sites include Rentar Plaza in Middle Village, Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park and the Rockaway YMCA at Arverne by the Sea.