Dutch Quad’s polling place moved to nursing home
By Marc Berman, Sports Editor
Come November, Dutch Quad residents will have to change their polling place to the Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home — a move Student Association (SA) President Steve Gawley says is an attempt to “inconvenience-student voters.”
This change in location will require students living on Dutch Quad to travel to the Washington Avenue extension, two and one half miles from campus, to cast their ballots.
The decision to relocate the polling place was recently handed down to SA by the Albany Board of Elections. Last November, Dutch Quad residents, who are part of the 15th Ward, District 7, voted either at the Thruway House, on Washington Avenue across the street front campus, or at St. Margeret Mary’s school located on Western Avenue three blocks from the campus entranceway.
“The nursing home isn’t accessible to students without a car,” said Gawley. “Even If you want to walk there you can’t because there’s no sidewalks. You can’t walk on a highway.”
The shift in location came about because of the overcrowding at the Thruway House and St. Margeret Mary’s. According to Nicholas Collucio, the Alderman of ward 15, a polling place can’t exceed its 1,000 constituents. Last November, the two polling places surpassed that maximum.
“Rich Schaffer (former SA President) and I worked very closely together,” said Collucio, “and he agreed that the districts should be broken up. The polling places were very crowded and the students had to wait in line too long.”
“I had no idea that they (Student Association) were upset at the redistricting,” continued Collucio, “I’m not sure why they’re upset, It’s about the same distance.”
“Two and a half miles and three blocks are not the same distance,” disagreed Gawley. “Especially when you don’t have a car. All we want is a polling place that is accessible to the students. When you put a polling place that’s not accessible, you are disenfranchising them.”
Gawley added, “We weren’t even contacted when they were making a major redisricting. I think it was a lack of consideration.”
Gawley also pointed out that the number of voters at the polling places were inflated due to buffer cards failing to be pulled out for graduating students.
George Scaringe, Republican Commissioner of the Board of Elections, said he sees the redisricting as a setback to student voting rights.
“It’s been viewed for along time by Albaqy Democrats that college students should vote In their hometown,” said Scaringe. “So they’re not going to make it convenient for the students to vote here.”
Gawley also said he feels the redisricting was done to inconvenience student voters.
“I think they did it on purpose,” said Gawley. “Somewhere down the line they feel students arc going to turn on the city administration.’ It’s totally ridiculous. First of all, we don’t have the voters to turn an election. We just want our concerns addressed. We want to work with the city, he added.
Ray Kinley, Democratic Commissioner of the Board of Elections, defended the decision to switch the polling place to the nursing home. “I think under the set of circumstances it had to be done this way,” said Kinley. “The people in the nursing home must have preference. How are they going to vote?”
“We don’t want to disenfranchise the elderly” said Gawley. “I just think it’s detrimental to put students and the elderly in the same district.” “We realize that there should be a special voting place for the elderly,” said Ross Abelow, SA vice president, “but you have to be fair to everyone. How are students going to get to the nursing home if they don’t have a car?”
Gawley has notified University President Vincent O’Leary about the redisricting and the SA President says that O’Leary is concerned about the women’s safety issue, Gawley added that O’Leary will take some measures in the near future in an attempt to change the decision.
Presently, two quads have polling places or! campus, Satale Quad (Ward 15, District 5) votes in their Flag Room. Indian Quad, which is pan of Guilderland, votes at the University Gym and Colonial Quad.residents still cast their ballots at the Thruway House.