Board of Elections unveils Queens’ 7 early voting locations

Voters stand in line to cast their ballots in 2018. Under new state law, New York residents can begin voting at designated polling places ten days before the November general election.  Eagle  file photo by Sara Bosworth.

Voters stand in line to cast their ballots in 2018. Under new state law, New York residents can begin voting at designated polling places ten days before the November general election. Eagle file photo by Sara Bosworth.

By David Brand

The New York City Board of Elections has identified seven early voting sites where Queens voters can cast their ballots ahead of the November 5 general election. Voting rights advocates and top city officials say the seven-site plan is too conservative to be truly effective.

The early voting sites are located at the Board of Elections Voting Machine Facility in Middle Village, LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, York College in Jamaica, Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Resorts World Casino in Ozone Park, Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing and the Rockaway YMCA in Arverne by the Sea, according to a spreadsheet of polling places obtained by Gothamist/WNYC.

Overall, New York City will host 38 early voting sites. Four boroughs will have seven sites, while Brooklyn, the most populous borough, will have 10.

The BOE did not respond to requests from the Eagle to confirm the sites on Friday, but an official told the Eagle on Wednesday that the city BOE had submitted the list of sites for review by the state Board of Elections.

Under new state law, New Yorkers can begin voting at the designated polling places 10 days before the November 5 general election. The sites will be closed the day before election day.

Voting rights advocates have championed early voting for years as a way to ensure voter engagement and increase turnout on election day, especially among marginalized communities, like low-income individuals and people with disabilities. The polling places could also help alleviate issues like ballot machine breakdowns and long lines that have plagued New York City in recent elections.

The seven sites are strategically located throughout the Queens, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said they are spread too thin, especially when the city has offered to fund 100 early voting sites citywide.  

“Seven early voting sites for all of Queens?! SEVEN?! That's like having seven sites for the entire state of New Mexico,” de Blasio said on Twitter in response to an Eagle story about the early voting plan. “We're giving the [Board of Elections] $75 million to do early voting the right way — not to make excuses for another botched Election Day.

A map of the early voting sites in Queens.  Eagle  map by David Brand.

A map of the early voting sites in Queens. Eagle map by David Brand.

Other advocates have also criticized the BOE’s conservative early voting rollout as insufficient to meet the needs of 2.4 million Queens residents, and more than 8 million people citywide.

“No voter should have to travel a long distance to participate in early voting, so it’s urgent that the BOE opens as many early voting sites as it can to accommodate New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” said Make the Road New York Deputy Director Theo Oshiro.

The BOE contends that it will build off the current early voting plan ahead of the November 2020 presidential election, which will drive huge voter turnout. That argument hasn’t swayed critics of the BOE’s current proposal.

“We’re going to have a logjam if we only have seven sites in Queens,” Citizens Union Director of Public Policy and Programs Rachel Bloom told the Eagle.

“Seven polling sites for more than two million people is an affront to democracy. The Board of Elections plan deserves a recount,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris in a statement. “We passed this law to make it easier for millions of New Yorkers to vote. The Board of Elections needs to step up so more New Yorkers will vote.”

“Seven early voting sites for all of Queens?! SEVEN?! That's like having seven sites for the entire state of New Mexico,” de Blasio said on Twitter in response to an Eagle story about the early voting plan. “We're giving the [Board of Elections] $75 million to do early voting the right way — not to make excuses for another botched Election Day.

Other advocates have also criticized the BOE’s conservative early voting rollout as insufficient to meet the needs of 2.4 million Queens residents, and more than 8 million people citywide.

“No voter should have to travel a long distance to participate in early voting, so it’s urgent that the BOE opens as many early voting sites as it can to accommodate New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” said Make the Road New York Deputy Director Theo Oshiro.

The BOE contends that it will build off the current early voting plan ahead of the November 2020 presidential election, which will drive huge voter turnout. That argument hasn’t swayed critics of the BOE’s current proposal.

“We’re going to have a logjam if we only have seven sites in Queens,” Citizens Union Director of Public Policy and Programs Rachel Bloom told the Eagle.

“Seven polling sites for more than two million people is an affront to democracy. The Board of Elections plan deserves a recount,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris in a statement. “We passed this law to make it easier for millions of New Yorkers to vote. The Board of Elections needs to step up so more New Yorkers will vote.”