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In New York City, Advocates Raise Concerns About Racial Bias in Early Voting Plan

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A voting station stands at the Park Slope Library. 

An analysis from three advocacy groups has found that New York City’s plan for early voting for the 2020 national elections is grossly inadequate and, as designed, will favor white, affluent voters.

The New York Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause New York and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law this week sent a letter to the New York City Board of Elections decrying plans to staff 38 early voting locations in a city with some 5 million registered voters. The letter also claimed that the placement of the locations—seven in both Staten Island and Queens—”will impose a severe burden on many of the City’s low-income voters, particularly those who work long or inflexible hours and face transportation challenges, who are disproportionately minority residents.”

The analysis comes after the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio offered its own damning assessment of the plan and demanded the Board of Elections release a new list before the end of the month. De Blasio has offered $75 million to help pay for as many as 100 early voting sites.

“We put up the money. Now. Do. Your. Job,” he tweeted on April 30th.

The Board of Elections has remained silent in the face of the criticism. It pledged to put the current list online on May 1st, but it still has not. Instead, Executive Director Michael Ryan read the locations out loud at a meeting, leaving journalists to transcribe the list. The Board of Elections has not, so far, announced its justification for the number or locations of the voting sites or explained any research it may have done.

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