New York, NY – After overwhelming turnout in the 2020 elections leading to long lines at many Manhattan poll sites, communities across New York are clamoring for increased access and more sites to engage in the democratic response.
New York City Council Member Ben Kallos has responded by introducing legislation to give voice to citizens and create a task force of community members with diverse expertise to work with the Board of Elections in the selection of sites.
“Community stakeholders with deep knowledge of their neighborhoods can be an invaluable resource in examining where we New Yorkers go to vote,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “This task force will help us improve efficiency and accessibility and help to renew the trust of New Yorkers in our voting system.”
This bill would establish a Poll Site Task Force to promote efficiency and accessibility at polling places in New York City. The task force would be required to review poll sites considered and used in the 2020 presidential election and make recommendations for poll sites for future elections.
Taskforce members would be appointed by the Mayor and Speaker of the Council and include designees representing relevant city agencies, including, Department of Education, the School Construction Authority, and the Department of Design and Construction. The task force will have the power to invite experts and stakeholders to attend and testify at its meetings as it works to come up with recommendations for the Board of Elections.
One of the main focuses of the task force will be to help identify new sites that could potentially be used as poll sites. The task force will also be responsible for submitting a report to the Mayor and the City Council putting forth recommendations for future poll site locations and ways to improve the process. The report will include:
- The costs for each poll site used in the 2020 presidential election incurred to make any temporary or permanent changes required to comply with the ADA.
- A summary of any additional information the task force considered in formulating its 2 recommendations.
This report and all of its recommendations are to be published publicly on the Board of Elections website.
Kallos’s community on the Upper East Side was home to what was deemed the “most overloaded site in NYC” at Robert F. Wagner Middle School with reported 6 hours lines at times. Local Community Board 8 has responded with an active subcommittee on voting which has met monthly, brainstorming on topics such as merits of certain potential sites to suggest to the Board of Elections. A formalized Poll Site Task Force would provide a venue for all New Yorkers to have representatives engaging in this critical conversation.