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To the Editor:
I have been an Inspector of Elections in the Town of Mamaroneck since 2013. For the last many elections, I have been assigned to ED 21. I have been told that the Mamaroneck Schools Superintendent has denied access to our usual polling place at the Murray Avenue School and that we have been placed at the DPW Garage at the Maxwell Avenue dump on June 28, like we were last June. This is clearly not a not a suitable facility for voting.
Last year, the polls were set up in the bays of a working garage at the Town’s Highway Department. They just moved some of the trucks outside. The rest were separated from us by a tarp. When we arrived at 5:00 a.m., the garage was stifling from the prior day’s heat and humidity and reeked of gasoline and engine exhaust. We opened the doors to cool things off and let in some fresh air. While things cooled off, the poll workers were exposed to the smell for the 16+ hours we were there. Also, the air turned out to not be so fresh because we were only yards from the dumpster trailers holding the Town’s garbage collection. With the doors open, the noise from the returning garbage trucks as they dumped their loads was so loud, we could not hear voters tell us their name. Also, when the trucks dumped their load, some of the garbage missed the trailer and blew across the yard and under our tables before the workers had a chance to gather it. Later in the day, when it started to rain, we had to pull the voting machines back so they would not get wet, but the humidity was high and the ballot books felt damp. It made for a long day exposed to the elements, as opposed to being in a climate controlled school auditorium.
At the height of the pandemic, we held the voting for the general election at Murray with poll workers wearing protective equipment and wiping down the machines, pens, and carrells. Now, with the pandemic winding down and restrictions being lifted, things are being made unnecessarily difficult for both the voters and the poll workers by being evicted from Murray and moved to the dump. Everyone gave it their best effort, but we should be at Murray. The voters of the Murray Districts pay some of the highest school taxes in the country. The County Board of Elections should stand up for the rights and well-being of the poll workers and the electorate and the Superintendent should be encouraged to understand that the schools are part of the fabric of the community which supports the schools.
Failing that, there must be a better location than a toxic fume filled open air garage at a dump with garbage blowing around. Most of the Inspectors are in their 60s, 70, and 80s. For their health and well-being, they should have decent, modern climate controlled working conditions. The predicted dew point for Tuesday is 67. Oppressive begins at 65. It will not be pleasant or healthful.
Very truly yours,
Robert S. Herbst
Larchmont (Town of Mamaroneck)
Thank you Robert for this well-written and sadly necessary letter. I cast my vote at the dump tonight and am grateful to you and the other poll workers, who seemed to be in good spirits despite the location. Substituting a literal garbage dump for our usual polling place is obviously unacceptable. In addition to endangering poll workers’ health and well-being, this move will undoubtedly suppress voter turnout due to confusion, inability to travel to a new location, or an understandable distaste for spending time at the dump. If Murray was unavailable, there must have been several more convenient, less unsanitary options. The Board of Elections and the Superintendent need to provide a better location for the August primary and the November general election.
As a resident of the Washington Square neighborhood, I couldn’t agree more. This is totally disgraceful. I am 61 years old, my wife is 70. We need a more suitable voting location.