Northeast Queens Needs More Early Voting Sites

QUEENS, NY — Northeast Queens representatives are urging the NYC Board of Elections to add more early voting sites there.

The elections board has approved just one early voting location in Northeastern Queens, at the Al Oerter Recreation Center by Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

But that recreation center is nearly 10 miles away for some voters in Northeast Queens, officials said. Under the elections board's current plan, the Bayside area would have no early voting sites.

"This proposal is absolutely unacceptable and fails to provide the community I represent with a conveniently located early voting poll site," Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, who represents Bayside, said.

Braunstein and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who represents Fresh Meadows, asked the elections board on Tuesday to reevaluate their list of early voting locations.

In a letter to BOE President John Zaccone, they wrote: "To expect voters of Bayside, Fresh Meadows, Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Whitestone, Oakland Gardens, Douglaston and Little Neck to trek to their nearest early voting site ... is unrealistic and undermines the intention and purpose of the State Legislature passing early voting legislation."

The state legislature passed an early voting bill in January, along with a suite of other electoral reforms. The bill, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo later that month, sets up a nine-day-period during which voters may cast ballots before Election Day.

The board will assign voters to specific early-voting locations, according to Gothamist, rather than permitting voters to choose the site that's most convenient for them.

The agency's list of approved early voting sites prompted a harsh rebuke from Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials, who lambasted the board for putting just seven early voting sites in Queens, the state's second-most-populous county.

De Blasio has called for the elections board to expand the number of early voting locations by May 29, the state's deadline for determining how much grant money each county gets as a reimbursement for early-voting costs.