Negotiation of a settlement is underway that will allow Bard College students to vote Tuesday on-campus while also keeping open the Methodist church on River Road for voters who prefer it.
Red Hook Town Supervisor Robert McKeon mentioned the settlement at the start of the bi-weekly Town Board meeting tonight. He said details were still being worked out. Presumably, the parties negotiating are attorneys for Bard and the Dutchess County Board of Elections (BOE).
Polls are due to be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Bard, via president Leon Botstein, several students, and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, has been battling for months for an on-campus voting location that would be safer during the Covid pandemic, that would accommodate students with disabilities more readily than the Red Hook United Methodist Church, and that would be physically closer to campus.
But the Republican BOE commissioner, Erik Haight, has been vehemently opposed and has fought Bard every step of the way. He told a State Supreme Court judge, Maria Rosa, nine weeks before the election that there was not enough time to relocate the poll. Bard objected to Haight’s contentions, terming his actions bald-faced voter suppression.
Haight’s argument was especially controversial given that just last week, the DOE, less than two weeks before the general election, moved the polling location for two other Red Hook districts — 7 and 8 — from the town hall, still closed during the pandemic, to the Linden Avenue Middle School.
Late last week, Rosa reversed herself and ordered the District 5 polling location moved from the church to the Bertelsmann Center on the Bard campus. Haight appealed. Earlier today, both Bard and Haight’s attorneys argued the appeal before the Second Department of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.
Of the 1,035 registered voters in the election district, 670 (65%) have addresses on Bard’s campus, while 365 (35%) live elsewhere.
Photo: Courtesy Election@Bard, a project of the Bard Center for Civic Engagement