New York Court Confirms Polling Place on Vassar College Campus, Uncertainty Remains

UPDATE: Dutchess County commissioners are complying with the court order to open a polling location at Vassar College. Photos show that voting machines are being moved onto campus this afternoon.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Nov. 7, a New York appellate court confirmed that an on-campus polling site must be established at Vassar College for the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm elections.

This order comes a few days after a lower court judge granted a request to open such a site, which was subsequently appealed by the Republican Dutchess County commissioner.

These orders stem from a lawsuit that was filed on Nov. 1 by the League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Valley, a Vassar College professor and a Vassar College student who alleged 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. 

The original decision on Nov. 3 that requires an on-campus polling site was a victory for Vassar students, faculty, staff and families, but the Republican Dutchess County commissioner’s appeal of the order appears to be an attempt to run out the clock before Election Day.

While litigation is still ongoing in this case, today’s order confirmed that there is no automatic stay (meaning pause) of the order given the appeal and the trial court’s order to open a polling place on Vassar College is still in effect. However, the implementation of this order remains uncertain.

According to court documents, the special assistant to the president of Vassar College emailed the Dutchess County commissioners reiterating the willingness of Vassar College to host such a polling location and naming a potential site.

The Democratic commissioner had previously indicated that it would be possible to open such a site if ordered to do so by Nov. 4; the Republican commissioner’s feet-dragging now puts this possibility in jeopardy. Despite two court orders, it is still unclear if it will be logistically possible for a polling place to be established on Vassar College tomorrow.

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.