After initially saying they were looking for alternate sites for voting this fall, the Department of Education says it will now welcome voters to schools on Election Day.

What You Need To Know

  • The city is working with the Board of Elections to find alternate poll sites for this November's election

  • About 700 of the approximately 1,100 poll sites every year are in schools

  • Earlier in the day, the city announced the Barclays Center would be a poll site this fall.

About 700 out of 1,100 Election Day poll sites are at New York City schools.

On Tuesday morning, education officials said they were looking for alternate sites for voting, claiming they needed to focus on their primary purpose of educating students.

“We continue to engage with the Board of Elections to find alternate locations as voting locations,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said. "We will have more to say about that.”

Late Tuesday night, the department reversed course, saying it would only look for alternate poll sites for early voting. 

In a statement, a spokesperson said, “We are working with the Board of Elections to determine the potential use of alternate locations for early voting, and are prepared to welcome voters to the polls on Election Day, when schools are closed. The safety of our buildings is our first priority.”

New York City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan had also tried to clarify earlier Tuesday. 

“There was some speculation as to schools not being used for poll sites,” Ryan said during the Board of Elections’s weekly meeting. "I just wanted to make some clarification to the commissioners and anyone who heard it that was apparently not clear at the press conference … It seemed like it was all election sites, but it was limited to early voting sites.”

The city’s Board of Elections has not released its list of early voting poll sites. It plans to do so later this week. 

The confusion over whether alternate sites other than schools would be used as polling places came on the same day another large polling site was announced.

On Tuesday morning, the Board of Elections leader was outside of the Barclays Center declaring the arena would be used as an early voting and Election Day poll site, too.

“To see a leader like the Barclays step up to the plate to help us all, all voters in the city of New York in our time of need, is just fantastic,” Ryan said as he stood beneath the massive arena in Brooklyn. 

NY1 also learned on Tuesday the Board of Elections's top lawyer, Steven Richman, would take a leave of absence because of a city investigation. The city’s Department of Investigation declined to comment. 

During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners for the board were in a closed-door executive session to discuss personnel matters for about an hour. When that session concluded, all Ryan said was Richman's leave is from August 25, 2020 to September 25, 2020.

After making that announcement, that meeting abruptly ended.