Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan and residents celebrated the reopening of two polling sites in Jackson Heights on April 9, after they had been shuttered for about two years.
The BOE had changed polling sites for the 46th and 47th Election Districts in the 39th Assembly District from PS 69 on 37th Avenue to PS 222 on the same street about a half mile away. In addition, Renaissance Charter School on 81st Street had also been closed.
The distance between PS 69 and PS 222 doesn’t seem like much but according to Dromm and many Jackson Heights residents, for the many seniors who make up a significant number of voters in the district, a half mile can make a big difference.
The polling location at the charter school was closed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The school’s elevator had not been working, making it inaccessible, which prompted its removal from the list of polling sites.
According to Dromm, the inoperable elevator — which is now in working order —was not brought to the BOE’s attention, which is why it remained a polling place for as a long as it did.
The decision to remove the two schools from the polling site list, made two years ago, will now be reversed which Dromm said will encourage more voters to participate in upcoming elections.
“The original change of voting sites to PS 222 for many Jackson Heights and Elmhurst residents meant the difference between voting or not voting because of the long distance they had to walk to get there,” Dromm said.
The councilman added that he even used his own car to drive groups of seniors to the school until the problem could be resolved.
“I am ecstatic that I am back at my home polling place at PS 69,” Jackson Heights resident Abby Drucker said. “I was appalled that for the last number of years, it became so much more difficult to vote.
“Changing polling sites after decades of going to the same site and making registered voters travel by foot or public and private transportation far from home discouraged many eligible voters from participating because of age, disability or the inability to get to polling places during voting hours.”