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Democratic legislator challenges GOP to provide more voting tools for minorities in Valley Stream

Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages on Tuesday, Feb.

Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 in Elmont. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages called on Valley Stream's Republican leadership to make sure there are enough voting machines, translators, inspectors and sign-in books for minority voters in next week's village elections.

His concern, he said in a news release, stems from a January village resolution to limit voting machines to one each at two polling sites, the Shaw Avenue School and the Clearstream Avenue School. Those sites serve mostly minority voters, Solages said.

Last week, Village Clerk Robert Barra, who is supervising the election, ordered an additional machine for each site. "We have taken steps to make sure everybody can vote if they're registered in the village," he said. "The two sites always had one machine each for village elections, but I wanted the extras in case one of these older lever machines breaks down."

Nassau Democratic Elections Commissioner David Gugerty confirmed the extra machines Wednesday.

Solages (D-Elmont) said the additional machines are an improvement that he attributed to his and others' opposition to the resolution. But he said more election assistance is needed Wednesday, including bilingual translators and extra inspectors and sign-in books. "Public officials should be vigilant that [the] . . . right to vote is not suppressed in any way," he said.

Barra said no one has asked him for any of the items Solages recommended. "But even if they had, it is not needed. There is nothing complicated -- no referendum -- to explain.

"There will be no long, lengthy lines. The most voters we've had in the past dozen years in a village election was roughly 2,600 in 2011."

He said the suggestion that voting rights are being suppressed is a "fantasy" crafted by Solages and Martin Zirpolo, a registered Democrat who is challenging Mayor Edwin Fare.

Fare and two of four trustees that form the village board's majority are registered Republicans.

Barra said the Shaw school covers three election districts and has two machines; Clearstream has three election districts and two machines, but the Wheeler School covers five election districts and has only two machines. "Is he [Solages] contending we're trying to suppress the vote there, too?"

Solages said he was not. "I am saying that if we hadn't taken issue with the resolution, nothing would have changed."


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