Disability rights groups, Bard College take aim at Dutchess elections commissioner

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON – Disabilities rights groups joined a top official of Bard College on Thursday to denounce Republican Dutchess County Election Commissioner Erik Haight’s decision to move a polling place from the Annandale-on-Hudson campus to St. John’s Church in Barryville.

A State Supreme Court justice sided with Haight saying moving locations at this late hour would be too disruptive.

Bard Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jonathan Becker, cited a number of reasons why he said the church is the wrong location for an election polling site.

“From our view in terms of ADA compliance, in terms of COVID safety in particular, the board’s [board of elections] goal is to suppress student voters, not to protect citizens with disabilities or to protect citizens as a whole from COVID,” he said.

Haight maintains his decision will not stifle voters.

“There are many ways to vote, either in person on election day, any one of five sites, one that is close to Rhinebeck Town Hall, early for nine straight days starting Saturday, plus they can vote by absentee; anyone can vote by absentee based on the governor’s lifting of any requirement of an excuse. So, to suggest anyone is being disenfranchised is just preposterous and Bard didn’t even make the claim of disenfranchisement in their lawsuit against the board of elections, which I prevailed on,” Haight said.

The Bard coalition has asked the court for leave to reargue.

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