Library board reinstates early voting


Community members celebrated the Elmont Memorial Library board’s unanimous vote to reinstate early voting at the facility at a board meeting on Feb. 22.

In January, residents were outraged at the board’s decision to discontinue hosting early voting at the library, based on alleged “safety concerns” that arose during electioneering in the run-up to last fall’s election, when early voting took place between Oct. 28 and Nov. 5. Last week, community members cheered the board as it announced its decision to bring early voting back.

Board Vice President Natasha Warburton-Welch told the audience of around 20 people that trustees had met with the Nassau County Board of Elections to discuss the library’s concerns about early voting. The Board of Elections, Warburton-Welch said, agreed to “increase staffing outside the polling place to direct voters to the appropriate entrances to ensure the safety of the patrons, staff and voters, and to endeavor to increase staffing within the polling site to improve voting efficiently and prevent long lines and delays in voting.”

“We know there was a lot of emotion in the room last month,” Dwayne Palmer, of Elmont, said, “so we thank you for your consideration of rescinding your early decision.”

Lynette Battle, president of the Elmont Memorial High School Parent Teacher-Student Association, thanked the board for listening to community members after the heated board meeting on Jan. 25.

“The community is going to hold up their end of the bargain and be trained as poll workers, and we’ll stand in the gap,” Battle said last week. “So that’s partnership, that’s collaboration, and thank you for hearing us.”

Palmer credited the board’s leadership for reaching out to the Board of Elections after the January meeting. He said he believed early voting is a “vital” resource for the community.

“We know that this year is going to be a contentious vote,” Palmer said. “We already know that there’s going to be problems — there are already problems. We want to kind of make sure … that everybody that wants to vote has the opportunity to in our public utility. So, thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you again.”

Library board Trustee Ellice Bekier said the board wanted to ensure that library patrons, staff and voters would be safe during early voting.

“We got a commitment that there are going to be people watching out for us and providing safety, and that’s what we wanted,” Bekier said. “We didn’t mean to disenfranchise anybody, but we had to provide for safety.”

Mickheila Jasmin-Beaman, of Elmont, echoed Battle’s sentiments, thanking the board for its willingness to collaborate with community members. Jasmin-Beaman said that 21 people had volunteered to work as poll workers at the library so far.

“The community heard you,” she said, “and right after the meeting, we reached out to all of our contacts, and it was very easy for me to get that information to the Board of Elections.” Jasmin-Beaman said the volunteers would be trained on Zoom, and receive certificates to serve as poll workers.

Sheldon Miekle, of Elmont, challenged attendees to take an active role in the library board’s decision-making process.

“We entrust our advocates, our trustees, to make the right decisions,” Miekle said. “However, if they don’t have the support of the community coming out, how are they going to make the decisions without knowing? So, what I’m trying to ask is that we continue to channel this energy that we have in a positive direction.”

Board President Livingstone Young thanked the audience, and invited everyone to come again to foster open communication between the board and the community. Warburton-Welch agreed, thanking community members for being involved.

“We are always open to hearing the needs and recommendations and suggestions from the community,” she said. “We are here for you guys, and we are happy that you guys are here for us as well.”