Fifty miles north of Miami, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton sports a signature dome and minaret, painted, like many other buildings in the area, a pastel shade of mint green. In June, some residents in the wealthy, mostly white coastal city were sent notices assigning the mosque as their designated polling place for the state's August primary as well as next month's presidential election. Florida's Tri-County area, consisting of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, is home to at least 150,000 Muslims, according to the Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations — a notably fast-growing population in a crucial swing state.
Soon after, a Palm Beach County official began receiving emailed complaints from voters about the selection of the mosque as a polling site. One even hinted at a bomb threat to force an evacuation on Election Day. The county promptly removed the place of worship from the list, reassigning the location to a library nearby. Ironically, the mosque's president, a Syrian-born computer science and engineering professor at a local college, will cast his vote on November 8 in a church, one of at least fifty on the county polling list.
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The addition of Islamic centers of worship to the mix of churches and synagogues — in any of the neighborhoods home to large swaths of the city's Muslim population, such as Jackson Heights, in Queens, or Parkchester, in the Bronx — would mark a symbolically important moment in New York's acceptance of that rapidly growing demographic. "It's important for the same reason that churches and temples are," said Albert Cahn, director of strategic litigation at the New York chapter of CAIR. "These are major institutions in the city, places where large numbers of New Yorkers can exercise their right to vote."