Dutchess Legislator seeks to replace elections commissioner

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Democratic Election Commissioner Beth Soto is being challenged for her position by Democratic Legislator Hannah Black of Hyde Park.  The County Democratic Committee will meet to make their nomination and then forward it to the county legislature for confirmation. Traditionally the legislature rubber stamps the party’s choice. 

Black, in an email to county committee members, claims that Soto is working with Republicans to suppress voting.  “Over the past two years, we have seen voter suppression as the board of elections put a new early voting site for the primary at a police station in the Town of Poughkeepsie and moved another poll site from Interfaith Tower to the City of Poughkeepsie police station – a longtime Republican priority – with our current commissioner’s rubber stamp of approval.”

Soto, meanwhile, isn’t going to relinquish her post.

“Yes, I plan to keep the position and will work hard to be re-appointed.  I’m by far the most qualified, honest, and time-committed Democrat that my fellow Committee members have to choose from.  The announcement email from my opponent is loaded with lies, innuendo, and mistruths illustrating that she lacks the integrity for such an important office,” said Soto.

“Ms. Black needs to educate herself on Elections Reforms, Laws and Executive Orders that were passed both this year and last year. To put out an email to the committee members, that I caved to the Republican Commissioner Erik Haight to move the Interfaith Towers to City Hall, simply shows that Ms. Black is unaware that all Board of Elections had to move our poll sites out of Senior Homes. Why? To protect Dutchess County our/your Seniors the right to cast ballot safely,” Soto said. 

 “To set the record straight, Ms. Black is again uninformed of the meeting that myself and my deputy held with the current Democratic legislative leaders elected in early 2020 where they agreed to move the early voting site to the Town of Poughkeepsie Community Room.”

Black’s colleague on the legislature, Giancarlo Llaverias is supporting her bid.  “Hannah’s experience as a legislator and former minority leader gives her the adequate tools to be a successful commissioner.  Hannah is tough, smart, and compassionate.  I think she would be a good fit.”  

Saying “Our party deserves better,” Black said “Many Democratic candidates have struggled to get the information they need for their campaigns and many committees have not received help with lists of new voters.” Black also accused Soto of working to reduce the accountability of her office. “Our current commissioner worked closely with Republicans to undermine the county committee and reduce accountability at the board of elections by going behind our backs to try to change their term length from two years to four years.

Soto drew the ire of some members of the party in February of this year when she fired Deputy Elections Commissioner, Elisa Sumner.  Sumner was, and still is, the chairwoman of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee.