Councilman Donovan Richards called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday to postpone the special election for Queens borough president due to coronavirus concerns.
After two appearances this week where Mayor de Blasio stated his commitment to keeping the special election on March 24, Richards said that voters should not have to risk to health to cast a ballot.
He pointed out that seniors, who are often the most consistent voters, are also the most at risk from coronavirus.
“With the number of polling sites located in both nursing homes and schools, the vulnerable population at those sites makes holding a truly democratic election impossible,” said Richards.
Meanwhile, Councilman Costa Constantinides and former councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley – two other frontrunners in the race – urged the city and state executives to expand the absentee ballot program.
Constantinides called to institute a borough-wide absentee ballot program that would provide every Queens resident the ability to mail an absentee ballot in this special election. Crowley called to open more early voting sites to increase poll site access, as well as absentee ballots for all residents.
“Canceling an election is antithetical to our democratic values and sets a worrying precedent for the future at all levels of government – we must instead focus on how to keep voters safe throughout the polling process,” said Crowley.
The mayor indicated at press conferences on Wednesday and Thursday that he tends to agree with Crowley’s opinion on last-minute election changes.
“I am really, really hesitant to change an election, ever, for anything. I think it’s a very dangerous thing to do in a democracy. So, we’ll look at it, but I would say, we’ll give it a very careful look,” said de Blasio on Wednesday.