Elected officials in northeast Queens are sounding off on the city Board of Elections list of approved early voting sites requesting that they identify additional locations in their region of the borough. Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein sent the letter to BOE president John Zaccone.
“Failing to include early voting sites in northeast Queens undermines state efforts to pass voting reforms addressing the challenges and barriers New Yorkers have come to expect at the polls,” Rozic said. “Together, we are urging the BOE to ensure eastern Queens voters are not overlooked in an early voting system that will provide voters with a more streamlined democratic process.”
Last month the BOE released a list of 38 approved early voting sites in the city, with only seven of them in Queens. The lawmakers noted that the BOE failed to consider a location in proximity to their constituents in northeast Queens. Currently, the closest approved early voting site is the Al Oerter Recreation 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.
“The NYS Legislature passed a law earlier this year requiring localities to implement early voting. NYC responded by providing $75 million to the BOE to open 100 early voting sites,” Braunstein said. “The BOE plans to accept the full $75 million allocation from the city while only opening 38 poll sites. This proposal is absolutely unacceptable and fails to provide the community I represent with a conveniently located early polling site. I join my colleagues in demanding that the BOE provide a poll site more easily accessible to residents on northeast Queens.”
Rozic and Braunstein were joined by Congresswoman Grace Meng, state Senator John Liu, Councilman Paul Vallone and Barry Grodenchik.
“The passage of early voting in our state will make voting easier and more accessible to New Yorkers,” Meng said. “Like all New Yorkers, voters in northeast Queens are entitled to take advantage of the convenience that early voting provides, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that polling places for early voting are made available in northeast Queens.”
Liu said it was unacceptable for the BOE to neglect northeastern Queens.
“In fact, it’s incomprehensible that in the BOE’s borough-wide plan, Flushing Meadows Corona Parkis the easternmost site,” Liu said. “The point of voting reforms, including early voting, is to make the democratic process for all citizens easier, and to bolster the public’s trust and confidence in elections: that absolutely must extend to northeastern Queens residents, too.”
Vallone said it was completely unacceptable that the area had been disregarded by the BOE.
“In an age when voter participation is at an all-time low, we should be making it easier for our residents to participate in our democracy, not harder,” Vallone said. “I urge the BOE to identify additional locations that will ensure the over 5 million registered voters in New York City can readily exercise their right to vote.”
Grodenchik demanded action from the BOE.
“The board of elections must see to it that every corner of our great city, including its eastern edge, has an accessible early voting site,” he said.