An apparent mistake by the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) would have had Whitestone residents voting in Forest Hills during the upcoming primary.
About 100 people in Whitestone, College Point, Malba and Beechhurst were sent BOE mailers last week directing them to vote more than six miles away, double the distance of their usual polling place, a local civic leader said.
The 61-20 Grand Central Parkway poll site listed on the notices is on the border between Corona and Forest Hills.
“I’ve been in Whitestone for 27 years. I’ve always voted at P.S. 193. It’s four blocks from my house,” said resident George Mirtsopoulos, 58. “I get this notice saying I’m voting in Forest Hills. I thought it was ridiculous.”
Mirtsopoulos, Malba Gardens Civic president Alfredo Centola and the area’s city councilmember said they alerted the elections board of the blunder.
The BOE first told residents the change was due to recent redistricting and later switched to say it was a “glitch” that sent voters in the 11357 ZIP code to poll sites in the 11375 area, residents said. The two numbers differ only by switching the last two digits.
“You should check and double check,” Mirtsopoulos said. “Somebody should have said, ‘Wait. They live in Whitestone, why are they voting in Forest Hills?’ The bells and whistles should have gone off a little bit.”
The mailer blindsided multiple residents, mostly the elderly, who did not take immediate notice of change in poll site, Mirtsopoulos said.
“A lot of people on my block didn’t even realize it,” he said. “It would have caused a lot of confusion.”
Councilmember Dan Halloran — who awaits trial for bribery but represents the district for the remainder of the year — said his office “was flooded with calls from angry or upset people.”
He said an 84-year-old widow named Marilyn would not have traveled to Forest Hills despite voting in every election since 1955.
Residents who called the BOE to complain were told new mailers with the correct poll site would be sent out soon, but the Board had no immediate comment for the press.