Brooklyn Heights

Seniors’ outcry leads to polling site fix in Brooklyn Heights

September 1, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A group of residents of 10 Clinton St. residents met with reporters on Monday to describe their fears they won’t be able to make it to their polling place for the upcoming election. Photo byt Mary Frost

Seniors residing at 10 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights were ecstatic to learn late Wednesday that BOE approved a room in their own building as a polling site for the November election.

“Yesterday afternoon I met with representatives from the Board of Elections. They measured every inch of the community room at 10 Clinton Street,” Toba Potosky, president of the Cadman Towers complex, told the Brooklyn Eagle Wednesday night.

“I received a phone call a little while ago from the BOE. They have approved the 10 Clinton Street community room as our polling place for the Nov. 8 general election,” Potosky said.

Several weeks ago the residents of 10 Clinton St., as well as other Brooklyn Heights residents, received notices that BOE had moved their polling place to Urban Assembly High School on the east side of Adams Street.

But many of the seniors at 10 Clinton said they feared they would not be able to vote in the upcoming elections because the school is too far away, and dangerous to get to because of construction on Adams Street.

There are so many seniors at 10 Clinton St., the building is working on becoming an official Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC), a special designation making it eligible for social services allowing seniors to age in place.

Potosky said he had reached out to elected officials and contacted the BOE about the problem, and on Monday, residents met with reporters. A day after the story was published in the Eagle, Potosky received a call from BOE to set up a site visit.

“I don’t know who to thank first,” he said. “So many people helped us. Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, District Leader Anne Swern. They all made calls our behalf.”

He added, “I’m also proud of all the cooperators who made phone calls on behalf of their neighbors.”

The fix can’t be put in place in time for the primary election, but residents are happy they can vote in what many consider the most important presidential election in years.

Long-time resident Susan Raboy told the Eagle on Wednesday, “I’m so relieved that I, along with so many of my neighbors, can now vote in November.” She thanked Potosky “for working so hard to make this possible.”

Other Brooklyn Heights residents say they will encounter the same problem getting to the Urban Assembly polling site.

“I will say a prayer before crossing Adams St. and avoid trying to vote during rush hour,” one Montague Street resident told the Eagle.

Update: A BOE reporesentative said that more news is coming regarding relocating Brooklyn Heights polling sites. Check back for more.

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Simon: Polling place squeeze throughout Downtown, Brownstone Brooklyn

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (AD-52) told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday that one of the problems in finding suitable polling places is the area’s overall lack of wheelchair accessible locations.

“In District 52, we had five to seven Electoral Districts that had to relocate because the schools were inaccessible,” she said.

Adding to the crush, the new polling equipment takes up more space than the old voting machines. The ballot marking device has to be situated so no one can see over the shoulder of the voter, and there has to be enough room for wheelchairs to turn around, Simon explained.

“It’s a persistent problem in this district, and we’re working to get it resolved,” Simon said.

Locating a polling place at the Urban Assembly School in Downtown Brooklyn is a “dicey proposition” for many seniors in Brooklyn Heights because of the difficulty in crossing Adams and Tillary streets, she said. And walking from Hicks Street to Adams Street “is a hike,” she said.

The odds of changing the polling place in time for the primary election, however, are “slim to none,” she said, so Simon is focusing on the General Election in November.

The Board of Elections (BOE) is being cooperative in following up on the complaints, she said.

“Running the Board of Elections is a complicated thing,” she said. “We’ve underfunded them. They have a bi-partisan structure — there’s two of everything. Sometimes they’re operating with old information.” However, they need to make significant steps to professionalize. I’ve complained about the training of poll workers for years.”