A suburban county will offer more early voting hours this weekend to reduce wait times under a state court’s Friday decision.
Rockland County will keep polls open for an extra 2 1/2 hours Saturday and Sunday, so they close at 4:30 p.m. rather than 2 p.m. The NYCLU filed the lawsuit Thursday in the Supreme Court of the County of Rockland on behalf of the Spring Valley and Nyack branches of the NAACP and several individual voters.
NYCLU senior staff attorney Perry Grossman said the county wasn’t abiding by New York regulations requiring county boards to provide accommodations for voters with disabilities and ensure voters don’t wait more than 30 minutes.
The group’s lawsuit cited resident Glena Davis, 72, who said she’s unable to stand in line due to a hip replacement. She said she’s driven to her polling location several times a day to check out lines that have wrapped around the buildings.
“When I was at the early voting site, I never saw any sort of sign posted that people with disabilities or the elderly could go to the front of the line, but I have seen several people with canes standing at the end of the long line,” she said. “If I’m not able to vote early, I may not be able to on Election Day.”
Westchester, Onondoga and Schenectady counties have extended early voting hours this weekend in hopes of reducing wait times.
Commissioner of Elections Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky had said the county planned to add signs offering accommodations for voters with disabilities Friday.
She had said she was pushing for increased hours and an additional polling site for this week.
About 11 percent of Rockland County’s 210,000 registered voters cast early votes through Thursday. New York doesn’t offer early voting Monday, and Election Day is Tuesday.
Statewide, more than one million voters have returned absentee ballots and 1.6 million have voted early through Thursday, according to the state board of elections. New York City alone has seen more than 700,000 voters already cast a ballot, but has been plagued by long lines that have caused hours-long waits.
The city's Board of Elections bowed to pressure from voters and lawmakers alike, and added an extra site on the Upper East Side. Early voting hours in the city go from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Still, Mayor Bill de Blasio has sounded like he's had enough of the oft-maligned board's missteps.
"When it comes to the Board of Elections — end it, not mend it," the mayor said. "It must be torn down and rebuilt."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also repeated his criticisms, saying the city BOE shouldn't be celebrating a week with few problems aside from the huge crowds forced to spend as much as a quarter of the day just to vote.
In the 2016 presidential election, New Yorkers cast 7.8 million votes. The state has about 11.7 million active registered voters.