The Andrew Goodman Foundation, Bard College President and Students Files Motion to Rehear Voter Suppression Lawsuit Against the Dutchess County Board of Elections

The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF), a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to increase student voter participation and access to the ballot box, along with Bard College President Leon Botstein and Bard College students, have filed a Motion for Leave to Renew and Rehear their case against the Dutchess County Board of Elections after the New York Supreme Court denied their initial petition to move the polling place to a safer and more accessible location on Bard College’s campus on the grounds that it was too close to the election. The Motion cites the relocation of 2 other local polling locations that were changed only hours after the Court’s ruling. It also cites a New York State statute that delineates what to do if a polling location needs to be moved in the lead-up to Election Day. 

The petition argued that the current polling site, located at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and related New York State Law. It is inaccessible by public transportation in clear violation of New York State Election Law. Additionally, the current polling location is a 3-mile round trip from the Bard campus on an unsafe route that lacks sidewalks and adequate street lighting. The route creates a significant hardship for voters with disabilities and the majority of students who don’t have cars. The location also lacks adequate parking and space to safely socially distance. Significantly, the church recently wrote to the Dutchess County Board of Elections recommending that a new polling site be assigned this year due to the “inability to provide an adequately safe environment for poll workers as well as the voters.”

“Our lawsuit against the Dutchess County Board of Elections is intended to address nearly 20 years of student voter suppression in the county and to prioritize the health, safety, and rights of all voters, especially during this ongoing pandemic. Even the leadership at St. John Episcopal Church, where the polling site is currently located, recommends a relocation for the safety of voters and poll workers,” remarked Yael Bromberg, Chief Counsel for Voting Rights at The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “Remarkably, hours after Judge Rosa handed down her decision, the Dutchess County Board of Elections moved 2 other polling locations citing the same COVID-19 public health concerns that we illustrate in our suit. This shameful double standard demonstrates that the board’s justifications for refusing to relocate the District 5 polling site are a clear pretext for voter suppression of the Bard College community, which comprises 70% of the district’s eligible voting population. Democracy only works if we all can participate.”

The lawsuit is brought on behalf of Andrew Goodman Student Ambassador Sadia Saba; Bard College President Leon Botstein; Bard College Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Civic Engagement Erin Cannan; Election@Bard; and The Andrew Goodman Foundation.

Counsel on the lawsuit are Michael Volpe, Joshua Rothman, Hilary Atzrott, Megan Hynes, and John Walsh of Venable LLP, and Yael Bromberg, Chief Counsel for Voting Rights for The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Principal of Bromberg Law LLC.

Click here to read the complaint.

About The Andrew Goodman Foundation 

The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s mission is to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by training the next generation of leaders, engaging young voters, and challenging restrictive voter suppression laws. The Foundation’s Vote Everywhere program partners with America’s colleges and universities to provide resources, visibility, and mentoring to a national network of student leaders who involve their peers in participatory democracy through long-term voter engagement, public policy, and social justice initiatives. The organization is named after Andrew Goodman, a 20-year old Freedom Summer volunteer, and champion of equality and voting rights who was murdered by the KKK in 1964 while registering Black Americans to vote in Mississippi.