The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. It’s what the suffragettes fought for a century ago and what our troops defend when sent overseas. In many states across the country there has been a resurgence of legislation making it more difficult and onerous for people to vote.
Thankfully, we don’t have such problems here, and I applaud Gov. Cuomo’s introduction of online voter registration in New York. But we still must be sensitive and responsive when large numbers of citizens feel as though they are being disenfranchised.
The sudden and confusing changing of poll sites throughout the city is proving to be unfair and terribly inconvenient for Queens residents, particularly many elderly and disabled voters who will now have to travel long distances in order to vote.
My office has been inundated with phone calls from residents who fear they will now be unable to vote. They are rightfully concerned and confused as to why they now have to travel 10 blocks to vote when their previous polling location was only a block or two from their home. In recent weeks, as I’ve spoken with more voters and more of my colleagues, I have begun to realize the scale and gravity of the problem.
I am encouraged to learn that some poll sites have been moved back to closer and more convenient locations, and I understand that redistricting may require some modifications, but there are still too many legitimate grievances.
On the whole, voters should not have to travel any farther to vote than they have in the past. In an important presidential election year, where voter participation reaches its highest levels, I strongly urge the Board of Elections to do everything in its power, including public service announcements and additional direct outreach to voters, to ensure that Queens’ voters are not unduly burdened. The strength and vitality of our democracy depend on it.
Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) is running for Congress in the 6th District.