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Town Supervisor Proposes Extending Elections When Trains Aren't Running

Metro-North crews worked overnight to remove more than 100 trees from tracks.
Metro-North crews worked overnight to remove more than 100 trees from tracks. Photo Credit: Metro-North

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner suggested on Wednesday that a state law should be passed to extend elections during emergencies that shut down Metro-North commuter trains.

"On Tuesday, May 15th there was a very important election around the county for School Boards and school budgets. . . . And there were some hotly contested elections for School Board in some districts," Feiner said.

School budgets were defeated in Brewster and New Rochelle. 

"Many voters who intended to vote after they came home from work were unable to catch a train to Westchester in time to vote. Voter turnout was not as high as it could have been and it's possible that some of the candidates who lost their election would have won if the weather did not cause the train service discontinuation or power outages," Feiner said.

A Daily Voice reader from Bedford Corners, R.T. Baum, echoed similar concerns about low voter turnout due to stranded New York City commuters on Election Day.

"What's needed?" Feiner asked. "The state Legislature and Governor should amend the law to authorize school districts and in the case of a November election the Board of Elections to extend voting hours (which could include keeping the polls open an extra day) in the event of an unusual circumstance like the one we just experienced."

Our democracy depends on voter participation, Feiner said. "The weather on Tuesday caused many people not to vote and that is unfortunate. With weather patterns changing this could happen again."

Baum added: "On election day trains originating from Grand Central Station were cancelled from circa 4 p.m. through 9 p.m. As a result hundreds of commuters and potential voters were unable to vote at local elections."

"The county’s voters stuck at Grand Central Station yesterday evening are proportionally unique given they are generally all employed, homeowners, and represent a large portion of the tax base. Had these voters been able to vote, the election results would vary," Baum said.

"This is a disappointment to me and my fellow voters. We now face a substantial increase to real estate taxes in the same year Westchester residents are no longer be able to deduct these taxes on federal returns. Westchester taxes are the amongst the nations highest and Westchester’s commuters pay a disproportionately large portion of property taxes. A substantial portion of the taxpayers at work yesterday will have missed their opportunity to vote and yet have no means in which to express their frustration<" Baum said. 

The press, local officials and voters should comment on this irregularity and consider the validity of the election results, according to Baum, who has resided in Westchester for 40 years.

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