At one Rochester apartment complex, redistricting leads to voter confusion

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – At Pinnacle Place Apartments on South Clinton Avenue, plenty of “vote here” sign were spotted around the building Tuesday.

It’s a high-rise for seniors and people with disabilities who tell me they’ve been voting here for years.

That is, until Tuesday.

It’s still a polling site. It’s just not their polling site.

This is Monroe County’s first Election Day with a new districting map. That means for some voters, polling sites have changed and ballots look a little different.

Sybil Stribling, who lives at Pinnacle Place, says many of her neighbors – most of whom are older and/or disabled – were confused and concerned.

She says the Monroe County Board of Elections sent her a card in the mail, alerting her to a new location. It’s half a mile down the street.

“I would have to get a ride to go to another location, or hope and pray that the city bus would ride by,” she says.

Kelly Cheatle was volunteering with local voter outreach efforts when word began to spread about polling place changes leaving some voters behind. She says she’s been advocating for people at the complex.

Some were struggling to find rides. Others were completely unaware of the change.

“We realize there are a bunch of folks here, who weren’t able to vote, and yet the signs were out that said it was a polling place,” Cheatle said.

And because of the changes, ballots look different.

“The fact that these folks are here, and they’re not able to vote for a City Council member if they can’t get out of the building and try to vote affidavit, that’s voter suppression and that is not okay,” Cheatle said.

Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay explained the changes.

“Every 10 years, we do redistricting. County redistricting happens. The legislators all voted on it, and the line they redid actually goes around that building so this one building got moved to the neighboring district,” she says.

“We are required by law and we did send a poll change letter to every person whose location changed from last year,” she adds.

In terms of accommodating these tenants, Nicolay says they can vote absentee in November or get rides from candidates, party organizers, or Board of Election workers.

“Some of them didn’t realize it until today, so you know, I would love that if people could pay more attention to the mail that they get from us,” Nicolay says.