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Dutchess GOP elections officials may 'run out the clock' on Vassar polling site

Nov 08, 2022 12:46 am

Phillip Pantuso reports for the Times Union that the Dutchess County Board of Elections may not have time to establish a polling site at Vassar College before the general election is complete, because the county’s Republican elections commissioner misinterpreted the state Supreme Court order last week that the campus must have a polling place. "He’s effectively run out the clock," said Perry Grossman, supervising attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, which coordinates election protection efforts in New York, including in this case. The Republican commissioner, Erik J. Haight, was named as a defendant in a petition filed last week by the League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Region, a Vassar College student, and a Vassar professor. The college has more than 1,000 registered voters, thereby requiring a polling place be located on or near campus, according to state election law. The petition accused Haight of stonewalling Vassar’s attempts to coordinate a voting site with the county Board of Elections. Late last week state Supreme Court Justice Christie L. D’Alessio ruled in the petitioners’ favor. Democratic elections Commissioner Hannah Black, among others, interpreted the ruling to mean the Vassar location would be an additional voting site for the three election districts the college includes. But Haight said the decision designated the Vassar location as a replacement for other sites in all three districts. Then late Nov. 4, Haight’s attorney, David Jensen, filed an appeal of D’Alessio’s decision. D’Alessio clarified the situation early Nov. 7, entering an order stating her ruling "explicitly granted petitioner’s requested relief in its entirety, specifically the designation of a polling site on the Vassar College campus. There was no request for replacement or removal of any other polling site." Haight has a history of making it more difficult for college students in Dutchess County to vote, including past efforts at Bard College, the Culinary Institute of America, Marist College, and now, Vassar College. Asked late Nov. 7 to clarify if the Board of Elections would install a polling place on Vassar’s campus, Haight responded: "My intention is to follow the order now that the lower court judge has cleaned up her muddy decision from last week. It may be impossible but only if the Democrats drag their feet." Read the full story in the Times Union.

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