POUGHKEEPSIE – A court filing seeking to force the Dutchess County Board of Elections to move the November polling place for the Fifth County Legislative District from St John’s Episcopal Church on River Road in Barrytown to a location on the Bard College campus was shot down by State Supreme Court Justicee Maria Rosa.
The Article 78 proceeding filed by Bard College President Leon Botstein, the Andrew Goodman Foundation, [email protected] and two students, argued that the church location was too far from the campus, is too small given the need for social distancing because of COVID-19, does not meet ADA standards, has no available mass transit and has poor conditions for pedestrians.
Both Elections Commissioners Erik Haight and Beth Soto signed the resolution approving the church site, but later Soto signed an affidavit that she supports moving the location to Bard.
Haight countered that the church is only three-tenths to seven-tenths of a mile from the campus and that Bard will operate its shuttle service to the church for the students to vote and also, public transportation comes within a half-mile.
The court ruling also noted Haight “speculates that Bard is an insular environment that could impact the perceived neutrality of any voting site and poses risks of disruptive camp-us protests interfering with polling site operation.”
The court’s decision on October 13 said with election 21 days away, the election is “too close in time to enable a change in the polling site” and a change would cause confusion.
Following the court decision, Haight released a statement. “The rule of law has prevailed and I’m gratified the Court reached the obvious decision. I think this is a good teaching lesson for the students that if you don’t get what you want, you shouldn’t just run off to court and waste everyone’s time and taxpayer’s money.”