Bard College Calls Out Lack of Polling Sites on New York College Campuses

WASHINGTON D.C. — Last week, a vice president at Bard College in New York sent a letter to college presidents and administrators urging them to take action for more polling places at university and college campuses across the Empire State. The letter addresses a 2022 law signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) that requires poll sites on or near college campuses with at least 300 registered voters. 

The letter — sent by Jonathan Becker, the vice president for academic affairs, director of the Bard Center for Civic Engagement and a politics professor at Bard College in upstate New York — comes on the heels of two studies that show that election administrators across the state aren’t complying with the law. A Rutgers Law School study found only a 2.2% increase in on-campus polling sites between the 2018 and 2022 elections. A follow-up survey, released on Feb. 16 by Bard College, “found that there was negligible change” in the number of polling sites at New York college campuses between November elections in 2022 and 2023.

According to the Bard survey, among 64 private universities and colleges, only 25% of them have poll sites, under 50% of four-year public universities in New York with more than 1,000 enrolled students have regular or early voting poll sites and only 16% of community colleges with on-campus residences have poll sites. All together, that equates to just 38% of public institutions in New York with on-campus polling sites — a number that the study describes as “bleak.”

The recent survey revealed that, since the polling place law went into effect in 2022, only three colleges added polling sites: Hostos Community College in the South Bronx, Brooklyn College and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. The Vassar polling place only appeared after the League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Valley, a Vassar College professor and a Vassar College student sued the Dutchess County Board of Elections to comply with the law and open a polling site on campus. 

The letter urges college presidents and administrators across New York to reach out to their local board of elections to intervene to establish  new polling places on campuses. The deadline for determining polling locations in New York is March 15. New York’s primary elections are on June 25 and the general election is on Nov. 5. 

Read the letter here.

Learn more about the Vassar College polling location lawsuit here.