Lawsuit Filed Over Lack of Polling Place on Vassar College Campus

WASHINGTON, D.C. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Valley, a Vassar College professor and a Vassar College student filed a lawsuit alleging that the Dutchess County Board of Elections and its Republican commissioner failed to comply with their legal duty to designate an on-campus polling location for the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm elections.

According to the petition, the “nearest early voting sites to the Vassar College campus each require an hour’s walk to reach and return, and are not accessible by public transportation from Vassar College” and the “refusal of the Board to designate an on-campus polling location for the November 8…election not only violates New York law, but further abridges the voting rights of voters who reside on the Vassar College campus, including but not limited students, faculty, staff, and their families.”

Moreover, the petitioners allege that under New York law, if a college campus contains more than 300 registered voters, a polling place must be designated on or nearby said campus. Since Vassar College has over 1,000 registered voters residing on its campus, an on-campus polling location is warranted, according to the petitioners.

They contend that if the Dutchess County Board of Elections fails to designate an on-campus polling location, Vassar College students will suffer irreparable injury in the form of disenfranchisement since they will not “have access to a convenient polling place for Election Day voting.”

The petitioners ask the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the respondents to compel them to operate a polling place on the campus of Vassar College and to “assign all voters registered at a residential address on the Vassar College campus to that on-campus polling place” for the Nov. 8 election. Early voting in New York commenced on Oct. 29

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in Republican attempts to hamper youth voting, from disqualifying student IDs as a valid form of identification to trying to disqualify college campuses from acting as early voting locations and more.

Notably, approximately 60% of voters ages 18-29 voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, with young people of color overwhelmingly supporting the Democratic nominee. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Republicans are seeking to suppress the youth and minority vote as a way to hold onto power as their base weakens and diminishes in size.

Read the petition here. 

Learn more about the case here.