Dutchess County Supreme Court Judge Maria Rosa ruled Friday that the Dutchess County Board of Elections must move Red Hook’s District 5 polling site from the Episcopal Church of St. John on River Rd. to a location on Bard Campus. Rosa pointed out false arguments made by the Republican Commissioner opposing the change.
Bard College officials and others brought the court case after Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Erik Haight refused to relocate the Barrytown voting location. The petition cited issues with the small space, COVID-19 social distancing, and problems with accessibility for the disabled.
The church had also notified the Board of Elections that it is unable to provide “an adequately safe environment for the poll-workers as well as the voters.”
The request was initially denied by Judge Maria Rosa, who accepted Haight’s claim that there would not be enough time to notify voters of a new location. But when Red Hook Districts 7 and 8 at town hall were moved by the Board of Elections less than 24 hours after her ruling, the appellants file a motion to reargue the case.
In the new motion, attorney Michael Volpe wrote, “Having misled this Court into entering the order, Commissioner Haight immediately proceeded to do precisely what he said could not be done.”
Judge Rosa agreed.
“The basis for this court’s decision and order has now been eliminated since the primary factor identified by Commissioner Haight and relied upon by this court was simply untrue,” Rosa wrote.
Bard Campus is closed to visitors as a precaution against COVID but will be open on Election Day. There have been no cases of COVID-19 reported on campus this fall.
Haight has indicated he plans to appeal the ruling.