October 24, 2020

Spectrum News: Niagara County Residents Upset With Limited Access to Vote

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Some say two is better than one, which is better than none, but locals in Niagara County say it's frustrating that the county only set up two early voting sites.

St. John de LaSalle Center in Niagara Falls and the Niagara County Fairgrounds in Lockport were the only early voting sites within the county.
"Unfortunately i's not accessible to a lot of people," said Leslie Nickerson, from Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope.

Community leaders in Niagara Falls say while some get turned off by long lines, they feel the "busy" factor can be used to their advantage to get the county to open up more sites.

"That means that there is interest and that means that people are excited, it means that people are ready, hopefully that will show that we need more spaces in the upcoming elections so people can get out and exercise their right," said Brian Archie, a member from Create A Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative.

Across the county, in Lockport, voters admitted they were already nervous casting a ballot in this particular election, and that having limited access to the polls made it worse.

"This has been nerve-wracking about voting, I have never felt so nervous, like I have to get out there and trying to find someplace, you know, it's scary to think that you might not be counted," Linda Hilbig said.

One Niagara County Board of Elections commissioner says they had specific reasons why they chose to have limited voting sites saying in a statement to Spectrum News:
"We have heard some complaints about having two sites but our main priority was to have sites that our BOE staff could oversee to ensure a smooth voting process and we followed the guidelines according to the NYS election law. This is our first presidential election with early voting and we appreciate all the feedback and can only improve the process as we get through this election."

Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino says he would love to have more voting sites but unfortunately it all comes down to funding, something he says is based on population and that there is no access to independent funding.

"We have always tried to see if we could an additional spot here in the midtown area, again, funding has been the question," Restaino said.

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