The city’s Board of Elections is shutting down two longtime voting sites in Bayside and Whitestone, claiming that they do not meet standards for handicapped accessibility under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
And Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Baysie) is wondering why Scheuer House in Bayside and the Le Havre Club in Whitestone simply cannot get variances or remediations necessary to allow voters — particularly senior citizens — to continue to vote in places they have become accustomed to.
“Hundreds of our seniors depend on these voting sites due to their accessibility and proximity to where they live,” said Vallone, chairman of the City Council’s subcommittee on senior centers.
Failing a last-minute change of heart at the BOE, Scheuer House voters will be redirected to Bayside High School.
Those accustomed to voting at the Le Havre Club will now vote at PS 193.
“It’s very upsetting to see our seniors continue to be nickeled and dimed by the city instead of receiving the resources they deserve,” Vallone added.
In an email obtained by the Chronicle a Board of Elections official states that both sites have cross-slopes along essential walkways that are more than twice the slope allowed under ADA regulations and a 2012 federal court ruling.
Vallone, in a statement issued by his office, said he believes the city should be able to grant some sort of variance if necessary repairs and upgrades are not possible for one reason or another.
“Forcing seniors to commute farther away to vote is not the answer,” Vallone said.
The Councilman wants to sit down with all parties to see if some sort of accommodation is possible.
But the DOE said keeping them open as polling sites would require a 100-foot temporary walkway at Scheuer House that would bridge the section of sidewalk in question; and a walkway of 130 feet, plus temporary handrails at the Le Havre Club.
Margaret Costello, manager of Le Havre Owners Corp., was disappointed.
“The Board of Election’s decision to remove Le Havre as a polling site is going to place an undue burden on many of our community’s seniors,” Costello said.
She said they are hoping that Vallone’s quest will be successful.