A polling location in Newark’s Central Ward Franklin School was moved to the basement, making it difficult – and in some cases, impossible – for elderly residents to vote in today’s non-partisan municipal election because of a flight of stairs in a building with no elevator or handicapped access.
“It seems they moved us at Franklin without notification,” said Linda Von Nessi, the clerk of the Essex County Board of Elections, in communications with election officials obtained by the New Jersey Globe.
The Essex County Board of Elections had certified that the polling place was compliant with the Americans for Disabilities Act, but the move to a basement location calls into question the validity of an inspection that certified the location.
It’s still not clear if the Board of Elections delivered the machine directly to the basement – if they did, it would contradict Von Nessi’s claim that she was not notified – or if school employees relocated a voting booth without permission.
“The problem at Franklin school is that they used to be on the first floor where handicapped can come in by the playground, but not the case if they are in the basement,” explained Dayvin Gonzalez, an election board employee, in an email.
The problem at the Franklin School is one of a long list of glitches reported in Newark today.
Many of the issues were related to confusion that followed a redrawing of ward boundaries and election districts in advance of today’ election. There were reports that electronic poll books were incomplete. Some voters were offered provisional ballots.
In some places, election officials were building ramps at polling locations today after board workers reported accessibility challengers.