Stuyvesant Town residents shocked by polling site changes

A polling site in Stuyvesant Town during last November’s election (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town residents in multiple buildings were shocked to learn last Wednesday that their polling sites had changed to a location in Campos Plaza Community Center at 611 East 13th Street. The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association said in an email on Wednesday that residents who got the notices bombarded Councilmember Keith Powers’ office and the TA’s message center about the changes.

The message from the TA noted that residents from as far away as East 20th Street were being instructed to vote at the Campos Plaza polling site across East 14th Street.

The Board of Elections has been shifting polling places around in recent years, primarily to make sure that the sites are ADA compliant, and Powers’ office has been working with the BOE to find spaces in Stuy Town that can be used as polling sites.

Powers said that the changes are due to accessibility concerns because there are a number of long-term poll sites that the BOE has been using that are not fully ADA compliant. Schools are often a popular spot for polling sites but Powers said that a number of the schools in the neighborhood are not actually ADA compliant yet, although the city is also working to correct that discrepancy. In the meantime, he is still hoping that spaces in Stuyvesant Town can be usable and his office has been working with management to get access to those spaces.

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Former opponent of Maloney loses lawsuit against Board of Elections

Sander Hicks

By Sabina Mollot

Sander Hicks, a Brooklyn Democrat who’d been knocked off the ballot — twice — in an attempt to dethrone Congress Member Carolyn Maloney this election season, has now lost a lawsuit he’d filed against the Board of Elections.

Last month, Hicks filed a suit against the BOE after he was removed from the ballot over issues with his petitions. Hicks said he got well over the necessary number of signatures at around 5,500, with 3,500 being required for candidacy, but his petition was rejected because he’d included two addresses on the cover, one his residence and the other his work. The board then sent him a letter informing him he’d have to correct it, although, according to Hicks, he had to guess the problem because he was never told what it was.

A spokesperson for the Board of Elections did not respond to requests for comment.

The letter, Hicks said, was dated August 3, but he only received it a week later, and when he resubmitted the petitions on August 13, he was told he was too late. In response, he filed his lawsuit in the New York City Supreme Court and attended a hearing on August 30.

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Former Maloney opponent suing BOE to get name back on ballot

Sander Hicks, pictured at a candidate forum in March (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Sander Hicks, a Brooklyn Democrat who tried to run against Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in the June primary — only to be knocked off the ballot after a challenge from another opponent — is hoping to run again as an independent candidate.

But first he’s suing the Board of Elections.

According to Hicks, he had nearly 5,500 signatures, which is far more than what he needed — 3,500 to run in the general election. However, he said after he submitted his petitions last month, the BOE responded in a letter to reject his petitions over the fact that he’d put two addresses on his cover sheet (one his residence, the other his office for mailing purposes.) The letter, Hicks said, was dated August 3, but he only received it a week later, and when he resubmitted the petitions on August 13, he was told he was too late. He filed his lawsuit on Friday in the New York City Supreme Court and served the board with papers on Tuesday.

“The legal department wouldn’t even meet with me,” Hicks said, calling the issue a “clerical error.”

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Letter to the editor, June 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Polling place changes make no sense

The following is a letter from City Council Member Keith Powers that will be sent to all residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Dear Neighbor:

As your new City Council Member, I wanted to inform you about a change that was made to your poll site for the upcoming elections. If you live in 330 1st Avenue, 400 E 20th Street, 410 E. 20th Street, 430 E 20th Street, 440 E. 20th Street, 442 E. 20th Street, 444 E. 20th Street, 446 E. 20th Street, 448 E. 20th Street or 450 E. 20th Street, your poll site has been changed.

The Board of Elections (BOE) has moved the voting location former poll site in Peter Cooper Village at 360 1st Avenue to the poll site currently located in Stuyvesant Town at 545 E. 14th Street for the upcoming election on Tuesday, June 26 and the subsequent elections in September and November of 2018, you will have to vote at 545 E. 14th Street.

I will be contacting the Board of Elections in an attempt to restore your polling site to its previous location. The poll site at 360 1st Avenue is still actively in use but currently only serves buildings within Peter Cooper Village.

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Maloney opponent suing 2 other Dems

By Sabina Mollot

The congressional seat representing New York’s 12th District that’s been held by Carolyn Maloney for a quarter century now has truly proven to be the hot seat. In a June primary, she is facing two candidates: Suraj Patel, a former employee of the Obama administration who owns a dozen motels with his family and other partners, and Sander Hicks, a small business owner and former independent publisher. Then there’s Peter Lindner, a computer programmer who ran against Maloney in 2016 and was hoping to do so again.

However, on April 24, Patel filed lawsuits against Lindner and Hicks, which according to a spokesperson for Patel, is charging insufficient and invalid petitions.

In the case of Lindner, Patel’s rep, Lis Smith, added, “The Lindner campaign failed to file the required number of signatures to be on the ballot this June 26. Unfortunately, the Board of Elections won’t enforce its own rules unless another candidate demands it, which we have. We look forward to a spirited election where Democrats have a real choice for Congress for the first time in a decade.”

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Epstein elected to Assembly

Harvey Epstein (right) with an aide at the Stuyvesant Town flea market (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, residents of the 74th Assembly District trickled into polling places, almost exclusively to make Harvey Epstein the next Assembly Member.

Epstein, the Democrat nominee who was also running on the Working Families line, obliterated three other candidates with 90.59 percent of the vote, according to unofficial poll results released by the New York City Board of Elections.

Republican Bryan Cooper got 4.69 percent, the Green Party’s Adrienne Craig-Williams got 2.16 percent and Juan Pagan, a Democrat running on the Reform Party line, got 2.25 percent. Thirteen people (.3 percent of the voters) opted for write-in candidates.

All the now-former candidates are residents of the East Village and had run on platforms that included affordable housing and tenant protections. Pagan is a retired entrepreneur and former corrections employee who’s run for office several times. Cooper is an event planner and the vice president of the Albano Republican Club who’s also run for office before. Craig-Williams is a graduate student and longtime Green Party activist who was running for the first time.

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Garodnick: BOE ignoring poll site change notice law

sept29-garodnick-in-st

Council Member Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot

With the General Election just days away, Council Member Dan Garodnick is calling on the Board of Elections to post signs at old poll sites that have been moved — as is a matter of city law.

The legislation in fact was authored by Garodnick and, after being signed by the mayor last year, went into effect in January. However during September’s primary, the first local election since then, it was clear that the new regulation wasn’t being followed, Garodnick said.

While he doesn’t remember how many complaints his office got, the lack of notice was stranding voters around the district. Making matters worse, some poll sites had been moved far from the original site, in one case a half mile away from the prior site.

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(UPDATED) Council candidate, booted off ballot over late filing, trying to get back on

Bessie Schachter, pictured at last month’s debate next to fellow candidate Jeff Mailman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

UPDATE July 27 at 2:15 p.m.: Schachter contacted Town & Village on Thursday afternoon to say she was reinstated by court order.

By Sabina Mollot

On July 13, all candidates running for City Council races were required to submit petitions with a minimum of 450 signatures — or more if they expected to ward off challenges.

But one candidate, who said she actually got over 5,000 signatures, was knocked off the ballot for filing her paperwork a day late, and is now attempting to fight her way back on. That candidate, Bessie Schachter, told Town & Village she does expect to be on the ballot in the September 12 primary, though, calling the problem a “minor, technical” one.

According to an employee at the New York City Board of Elections, Schachter was removed on July 20 for responding a day late to a noncompliance notice. The notice had indicated a problem with her petition’s cover sheet, since cover sheets must mention how many volumes are included, and each volume must have its own identification number. Schachter had to have filed it within a three-day notice period that ended on July 19, but she filed the next evening, he said.

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No primary scheduled in 74th Assembly District, but no one tells voters – again

Helpful signs like the ones pictured above were nowhere to be found on Tuesday.

Helpful signs like the ones pictured above were nowhere to be found on Tuesday.

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, Primary Day, there was no polling in the 74th Assembly District, due to no uncontested races. However, voters in the district, which includes Stuyvesant Town and Kips Bay, weren’t given notice of this, leading some to venture out to do their civic duty and be counted as they would do any other voting day.

“Just walked to polling place at 283 Avenue C only to discover nothing going on and definitely no signs,” one annoyed reader told Town & Village in an email on Tuesday. “Went to security to be informed that the Board of Elections notified them at about noon that since no one was running in our district they would save money and not open. Save money great… but what else do they have to do but inform voters?”

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No primary for 74th District, but no one tells voters about it

Signs at a Stuyvesant Town polling place in a prior election year

Signs at a Stuyvesant Town polling place in a prior election year

By Sabina Mollot

On Primary Day, which this year was on September 10, voters living in the 74th Assembly District were left without a chance to vote — not that anyone bothered to tell them this.

A primary wasn’t held in the district due to a lack of contested races, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections told Town & Village, but with no warnings about a cancellation, some die-hards still went out to cast their votes. One voter, Stuyvesant Town resident Susan Schoenbaum, told Town & Village she ended up wandering through much of the complex — after seeing that her assigned polling site, 10 Stuyvesant Oval, was closed with no sign of activity. The usual white and blue “Vote Here” signs in English and Spanish that get placed near polling sites on election days were also nowhere to be found.

Schoenbaum said she had not received anything in the mail about a polling site change, and an online check later of where her polling site should have been, on the city Board of Elections website, also showed it as being 10 Oval.

After walking around a while, and asking contractors on site in a golf cart if they knew where she could vote — they didn’t — Schoenbaum popped into the Public Safety office. There, an employee told her the department had received word the primary had been postponed until November.

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Lawsuit to close election loophole

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (pictured at a rally in May) is one of the plaintiffs. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (pictured at a rally in May) is one of the plaintiffs. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, three Democratic state legislators filed a lawsuit against the Board of Elections aimed at closing the “LLC Loophole.”

The so-called loophole, created by the board in 1996, came under scrutiny this year due to all the campaign cash that had been legally funneled to legislators through limited liability companies. Many of the LLCs were controlled by real estate interests, most infamously Leonard Litwin of Glenwood Management. The loophole has allowed them to give nearly limitless contributions — up to $60,800 in a single election year by allowing them to be considered individuals.

“It’s not just (Litwin),” said Brent Ferguson, an attorney with New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which helped prepare the lawsuit. “In the real estate industry, they can operate a separate LLC for every building they own.”

He added, “We think it’s an incorrect reading of the law.”

The Brennan Center got involved with a suit on the loophole, said Ferguson, because it’s “become very popular” in recent years. “The amount has skyrocketed.”

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