BY JON CRONIN
LeFrak City won a victory last week in signing a one-year lease to keep polling sites in the Corona apartment complex, but there is a caveat.
The city’s Board of Elections (BOE), which pulled the polling site from LeFrak City last summer on the grounds that it was not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, is still seeking an appeal of the case that LeFrak City tenants won last fall to keep the polling sites.
As of press time, the BOE had not responded to an inquiry as to why it is continuing with the appeal.
LeFrak City has five polling districts that would have been moved. Three will remain in their current location in the Continental Room and the other two will be moved to LeFrak City’s Queens Library location.
LeFrak City tenants have been voting on site in the Continental Room, which is part of the 20-building apartment complex, for 50 years. In 2015, residents were told that they would have to travel to Elmhurst’s PS 13 or the High School for Arts and Business to vote. During the 2016 presidential election, the BOE extended the closing date, a move that ended up confusing residents.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said that the lease for the new location is only for a year, but it will continue as long as LeFrak City wants to renew the lease.
“It’s a victory so far because BOE has not yet dropped their appeal of federal decision,” said Malika Shabazz, the president of the LeFrak City Tenants Association. “Even though they moved the poll sites back, I strongly suggest that they should drop the appeal. It’s a little confusing, if they’re going to do it in good faith. We have to proceed with caution. I don’t know what’s going to happen when we have an open argument in September.”
Shabazz believes that Gov. Andrew Cuomo should investigate the moving of all polling sites during the past three years.
“They are trying to break up our voting districts,” she said, noting that such moves make voting more difficult for seniors and people with disabilities.
She added that moving poll sites to get a certain outcome sabotages elections.
“Once the judge rules in our favor, I would call that a complete victory,” she concluded.
Elected officials representing the housing complex said that the new lease is a victory for residents in LeFrak City.
“Maintaining the polling sites sends a strong message to LeFrak City residents, and to the entire city, that their voices matter and their right to vote is paramount,” Crowley said.
Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said that he was cautiously optimistic.
“Even a Supreme Court judge ruled that the relocation of the polling site was ‘irrational and arbitrary,’” he said. “Simply put, this was an attack on LeFrak City residents. It is my hope that efforts to relocate the polling sites are a thing of the past and it does not become a recurrent issue. I have been working for months with the LeFrak City Tenants Association and several elected officials, including Congressman Joseph Crowley, to ensure the polling site was not relocated. For now, at least, that will be the case, but we will keep an eye on any possible future efforts to make it difficult for people to head to the polls.”
Ethan Felder, an attorney representing LeFrak City residents in the case, said that the appeal will be heard in the Appellate Court in Manhattan on Sept. 4.