Following the threat of litigation, New York City’s Board of Elections agreed Thursday evening to open Marymount Manhattan College as another early voting site for the Upper East Side this weekend.
From the start of early voting last Saturday, the wait to cast a ballot at Robert Wagner Middle School has been unbearably long, with some waiting up to five hours in line. It’s also the polling site with the largest number of assigned voters at over 118,000, according to an analysis from WNYC. Marymount will be open to voters on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 1 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m..
”Marymount Manhattan College had previously served as an Election day poll site for the June Primary; the Board had reached out to them for the November General, but the space was not available,” said Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, Director of Communications & Public Affairs at the NYC Board of Elections, in a statement. “We welcome their newfound interest in becoming a site and hope it extends past this election. It is our hope that this additional site will alleviate voter traffic at Robert F. Wagner Middle School. At all early voting sites, seniors and voters with disabilities are directed to go the front of the line.”
The BOE’s decision did take some needling from UES Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, who is on the ballot for re-election.
After striking an agreement with Marymount Manhattan College’s president Kerry Walk to open the campus for early voting, Seawright approached the BOE with the proposal. When the commissioners of the BOE did not take up the issue at their meeting Thursday afternoon, Seawright threatened litigation. At a press conference, she announced to file a suit the next day against the BOE to compel the city to open another voting site in the neighborhood.
“The Board of Elections commissioners met earlier today and refuse to take a vote to authorize another early voting site,” Seawright said at the press conference. “These long lines are nothing more than pure and simple voter suppression; voter suppression of senior citizens voter suppression of people with disabilities, voter suppression because of working men and women. It is unacceptable. I’m bringing this lawsuit on behalf of the thousands of voters of the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island who have been discriminated against by the violation of the Board of Elections simply not following the statute and the election law.”
Several hours later, the board acquiesced to the request.
The board has also added more hours to its schedule for the rest of the week. Voters can visit their respective polling site from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.