By: Jennifer Korn
On Oct. 30, The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) reached a settlement with the Rockland County Board of Elections regarding the issue of long voting lines and the lack of accommodations for voters with disabilities.
“Today’s ruling provides Rockland County voters with the support, resources, and relief urgently needed at the polls as we head into the final weekend of early voting,” said Perry Grossman, NYCLU senior staff attorney.
On behalf of the Spring Valley and Nyack branches of the NAACP and individual voters, NYCLU filed a lawsuit against the Rockland County Board of Elections on Oct. 29.
During the early voting period, Rockland County failed to meet the state’s regulations, which ensure that the waiting time for voters is no longer than 30 minutes.
Several legislators called for immediate action to help alleviate long voting lines, but the Republican Elections Commissioner reportedly opposed extending early voting hours.
“When it’s this hard to vote, some people simply walk away, intending to come back another day, but possibly never casting their ballot because of a long wait in inclement weather,” said Legislator Harriet Cornell. “It adds up to nothing less than an effort to suppress votes, whether it means to be or not.”
“This started on day one of Early Voting and absolutely no relief has been provided in the six days since,” said Legislative Majority Leader, Jay Hood. “A partial remedy that could ease the lines has been identified and the commissioner needs to act in favor of all voters immediately.”
Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe said that in Westchester County, both Democratic and Republican Elections Commissioners agreed to extend early voting hours and add extra resources to voting locations. Only the Democratic Elections Commissioner in Rockland County stated her support for the same measures.
“It’s ridiculous that it could take legal action by a citizen or even an executive order by the Governor to enforce one of the fundamentals due to every voter” said Wolfe.
The New York State Supreme Court of Rockland County agreed on the settlement and extended poll site hours by two and a half hours per day. The lawsuit originally sought three extra hours per day.
“Voting in Rockland County will no longer be a privilege reserved for those able to wait and stand in line,” said Grossman. “This is a critical election, and we will continue to fight to make sure everyone can make their voices heard.”
Photo Caption: Voting lines extended out the door and around the building at Haverstraw Town Hall on Thursday as Rocklanders waited in the rain to cast their ballots.
Photo Credits: Joe Kuhn