2001-09-08 / Front Page

No Voting Machines For Local Homes by Howard Schwach

No Voting Machines For Local Homes by Howard Schwach

Despite the fact that nursing homes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx will get back the voting machines that were taken from them by a Board of Elections decision that there can be only one polling place in each election district, similar facilities in Queens and Staten Island will not.

According to Board of Election officials, voting in those three boroughs is controlled by court order by the U.S. Department of Justice. Voting in Queens and Staten Island is not. The machines will be placed in nursing homes covered by Justice Department jurisdiction.

The original decision to remove the machines from nursing homes and senior citizen housing brought concerns and complaints. Senior were told that they could vote by absentee ballot or by visiting their central polling place.

Residents in those three boroughs who are getting their machines back and who have already voted by absentee ballot will be able to vote on primary day. Their absentee ballots will then be voided.

Teams of election officials have been visiting local nursing homes and senior citizen’s facilities to assist in casting the absentee ballots.

A controversy all its own has grown out of that activity, however, because there are no independent poll watchers available to insure that the absentee ballots are filled out without coercion.

"We want the process to be as open and fair as possible," says a spokesperson for candidate Peter Vallone.

Several of the candidates are working to reverse the decision and to place voting machines in nursing homes and senior facilities in all boroughs prior to next week’s primary, but experts are unsure as to whether that will be possible

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