2001-08-04 / Editorial/Opinion

Let The Seniors Have Their Polls

Let The Seniors Have Their Polls

For the past 30 years, the Board of Elections has established multiple polling places in each Election District (ED) in order to allow senior citizens living in senior’s housing complexes and in nursing homes to vote without leaving the premises. Allowing seniors to vote "at home," in a sense, greatly increased the number of seniors who participated in each election. It was also a windfall to many Democratic candidates, such as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who often garnered the vast majority of that senior citizen vote. The Board of Elections has suddenly "discovered," however, that the election law mandates that there be only one polling place in each ED. Seniors will now have to travel to vote or to submit absentee ballots, something many have been unwilling or unable to do in the past. While the Board of Elections has promised that teams of professionals would be dispatched to each nursing home and senior’s housing unit to assist them in filing absentee ballots, we believe that many seniors will simply not vote. We believe that seniors have as much right to vote as anybody else and that by making it more difficult for them to access a polling place, the Board of Elections is greatly reducing their possible participation in the election. There is no doubt that the Board of Elections is one of the most politically driven entities in city government and we have to wonder if the sudden discovery of the law has anything to do with the status of the candidates in this year’s mayoralty election. A board spokesperson recently told The Wave that the state legislature must change the law to allow for multiple polling sites. The word is that many of our legislators are jumping on the bandwagon to get it done prior to the September 11 primary election, but it is not at all clear whether they can get it done in time. They say that seniors deserve to vote "at home," but after 30 years of participation, our seniors need more than platitudes. They need a place to vote.

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