Vassar students: BOE in violation by not designating polling site on campus

The students wrote a letter to County Executive Marc Molinaro and Gregg Pulver, chairman of the county Legislature, asking them to have the Board of Elections act by the end of the week.

News 12 Staff

Oct 26, 2022, 9:53 PM

Updated 576 days ago


Vassar College students in "Democracy Matters," and a handful of other area voting groups, are claiming the county Board of Elections is in violation of a new New York state voting law by not designating a polling site on the college's campus in the Town of Poughkeepsie. 
The law mandates polling places on college campuses with 300 or more registered students or at a nearby site proposed by the college.
The students wrote a letter to County Executive Marc Molinaro and Gregg Pulver, chairman of the county Legislature, asking them to have the Board of Elections act by the end of the week. 
Currently, students vote at two different locations off campus. The polling locations depend on where they live on campus. 
News 12 is told the groups are still reviewing whether or not to take legal action. 
In separate statements, the Republican and Democratic commissioners for Dutchess County's Board of Elections say the other is impacting the process. 
Here's what each commissioner for the Board of Elections told News 12: 
"The proposal made Commissioner Black isn’t permitted by the election Law. I have repeatedly asked her for a solution that complies with the entirety of the law and she’s failed to do so. As election commissioners we must make decisions that balance the needs of all voters not just a select few. I’m supporting the path that enfranchises all voters not only the college students. " - Erik Haight, Republican commissioner Dutchess County Board of Elections.
"In the governor’s budget, Part O, it passed that college campuses and universities with 300 or more registered on campus voters, must put a poll site on campus or where the college/university has agreed to a poll site. This law was effective 90 days after the budget was passed. However, in the law it gave board of elections until August 1st to designate a poll site on campus. Vassar College has over 1,000 voters on its campus and they have requested that a poll site be located on their campus. As a commissioner, I have been trying to move this forward and comply with the election law. However, my Republican counterpart refuses to comply with the law and continues to delay the process. By doing so, Commissioner Haight chooses to suppress voter’s rights.
Students in election district 6-2 vote at Poughkeepsie United Methodist Church at 2381 New Hackensack Road, Poughkeepsie, NY. Students in election district 6-3 and 6-4 vote at Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority at 1 LaGrange Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY." - Hannah Black, Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner.
The Dutchess County Executive’s office says “neither the county executive nor the Legislature have jurisdiction to force the Board of Elections to change or create a polling site nor can they influence the operations of elections.”
The office adds the county Board of Elections is independent and reports to the state.
News 12 has not heard back from Vassar College.

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