Residents of LeFrak City appear to have their polling sites back at their sprawling residential complex in Corona after a year-long battle with the city’s Board of Elections. In the summer of 2017, LeFrak City tenants learned that their polling place -- containing five different election districts -- would be moved from within the complex’s Continental Room, where they had been voting for more than 50 years, to schools three-quarters of a mile away.
These 6,000 voters, many of whom are minorities, elderly or disabled, would have to disperse to other sites that do not have public transportation options. The city argued that the Continental Room was not compliant under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The LeFrak City Tenants Association and other organizations sued the BOE. In October, two weeks before the general election, New York County Supreme Court Justice Erika Edwards ruled that four of the five election districts be returned to the Continental Room, calling the BOE’s relocation of the polling sites “irrational, arbitrary and capricious.”
The BOE is appealing the decision and oral arguments before the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division were set to begin in September. With the 2018 federal primary just weeks away on June 26, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) announced an agreement with the BOE has been reached to keep the community’s polling sites within the apartment complex through this election cycle.
“LeFrak City residents, and all of us fighting to expand access to the ballot box, won an important victory today,” Crowley said last Friday. “These polling sites should never have been at risk and I’m glad the Queens residents will be able to participate in our Democratic system easily and unobstructed.”
State Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona), City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) joined Crowley to advocate for the polling sites to be left in Lefrak City.
“When Democracy wins, we all win, and Lefrak City residents won the critical fight to keep their polling site at the LeFrak City complex,” Peralta said. “Attempts to move the polling sites were illogical, and I’m happy to see that voters will be able to exercise their right to vote without interference. It is my hope that efforts to relocate the polling sites are a thing of the past and it does not become a recurrent issue. I have been working for months with the LeFrak City Tenants Association and several elected officials, including Congressman Joseph Crowley, to ensure the polling site was not relocated. For now, at least, that will be the case, but we will keep an eye on any possible future efforts to make it difficult for people to head to the polls.”
Moya said this is what happens when our democracy functions properly.
“Residents spoke out against relocating these ballot boxes and together we managed to stop this plan, which threatened to needlessly disenfranchise some voters,” Moya said. “I’m so pleased the local elected officials came together to hear the community’s concerns to bring these poll stations back to LeFrak City.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr
©2018 Community News Group
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