The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Statement on Bard College Lawsuit Ruling

The Dutchess County Board of Elections has a history of intentionally discriminating against student voters. The County’s decision to ignore the resolution of the Town of Red Hook and various experts to situate a polling place on Bard’s campus is not only blatant voter suppression, it is a death trap that puts both students’ and other community members’ health at risk. Notably, the leadership of St. John’s Episcopal Church recently wrote to the Board of Elections that it preferred to not serve as a polling location during the pandemic. It recommends an alternative polling site be found based on its “inability to provide an adequately safe environment for poll workers as well as the voters.”

As the nation is embroiled in a pandemic during a critical election cycle, Bard College is a ready, safe, and accessible location to accommodate the needs of all voters. At 70%, the Bard College community comprises the overwhelming majority of eligible voters in the 5th district of Dutchess County.

Judge Maria G. Rosa found that the “Petitioners have stated good cause for fair consideration to be given to moving the polling place.” However, by denying the relief requested, an alarming precedent is set for voting rights, all the more dangerous in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

Democracy only works if we all vote. At this moment of tremendous enthusiasm among younger voters, we should be encouraging them to vote and not erecting more barriers to their participation. The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Bard College are not giving up and will continue to advocate for students to have equal access to the ballot.

Click here to read the judge’s ruling.