Queens, New York residents avoided the conundrum of US Post Office operation changes by showing up in person to vote. While some were motivated by the voter turnout, others felt that the long lines screamed voter suppression.
With 671 high volume mail processing machines down and large amounts of mail boxes removed across the country, New Yorkers didn’t take any chances. Early voting will continue through Sunday, November 1.
Voters stood outside of York College under an overcast sky that threatened rain at 7 a.m., determined to cast their ballots. Anticipating long lines, citizens old and young came prepared to wait with chairs, reading materials and warm drinks. Voters that arrived at 9 A.M. scoffed at the length of the line and found themselves having to walk around three corners and six blocks just to get their place in line. The length of the line, the chill in the air or the exhaust from passing cars did little to deter them—they waited unwavering for the doors to open at 10 a.m.
NYC Council Member, Adrienne Adams tweeted, “Record early voting at York College today!! I have NEVER seen the line extend from Guy R. Brewer Blvd. all the way around to Jamaica Station on Archer Avenue! YES! VOTE MY PEOPLE, VOTE!!!” The U.S. Elections Project reports that currently over 60 million people have participated in early voting so far.
But not everyone shared Council Member Adams sentiment. According to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, waiting in line more than two hours was unacceptable and a form of voter suppression. “Just because it’s happening in a blue state doesn’t mean it’s not voter suppression,” says AOC in a press conference after she cast her ballot.
Indeed, these experiences aren’t synonymous to New York. Voters across the country are experiencing the same if not longer wait times. NPR reports that long lines quickly formed at polling sites in Georgia and Texas. Senator Cory Booker tweeted, “We’ve become all too familiar with the sight of unacceptably long lines in Georgia’s Elections…This is voter suppression.” USA Today reports that almost 1,700 voting precincts in Black and Latino communities were shut down in 2012. As per USA Today, Georgia shut down 214 polling sites, Texas closed 750 and Arizona shut down 320.
What is more, some state officials claim these changes have been brought on due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Human Rights Watch reports that Milwaukee officials decided to remove 180 smaller polling places, in hopes to keep up with social distancing. However their decision to switch polling sites to five high school gyms had the opposite effect, Human Rights Watch reports.
Whether done with malicious intent or inadvertently, voter suppression has been put in place long before Postmaster General DeJoy stepped on the scene.
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