As a college student, you face a choice when you arrive on campus: vote where you attend school and live for the majority of the year, or vote absentee in your hometown. College marks the first time many young people are eligible to vote, and developing the habit of voting has a profound impact on involvement beyond college. Election@Bard works to increase voter turnout by registering voters, developing elections-based programming to foster civic engagement, and fighting for voting rights.

What We Do

Voting is one of the most fundamental rights in a democratic society and we encourage all students to exercise the right to vote. The initiative facilitates voter registration for students, provides information about candidates, hosts forums in which candidates and students can meet, and protects the rights of students to vote and have their votes counted. Since 2014, the initiative has been led annually by Bard’s Vote Everywhere Ambassadors, an undergraduate selected by the Center for Civic Engagement and the Andrew Goodman Foundation. In 2015, a second Vote Everywhere Ambassador position was added to expand campus outreach efforts. In fall of 2018, we will have not two, but three Vote Everywhere Ambassadors at Bard College.

The Center for Civic Engagement, in partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, sponsors the Election@Bard initiative.

Ava Mazzye ’20
Director, Election@Bard
Team Leader, Vote Everywhere program

Ava Mazzye is a junior at Bard College studying Political Studies and Spanish. In the summer of 2017, Ava became Team Leader of the Bard Vote Everywhere team, a subsidiary program of the Andrew Goodman Foundation. In her position, Ava focuses on registering, educating and engaging college-age voters.

CCE Office Hours: Wednesdays 10:00a – 1:00p

Sadia Saba ’21
Community Engagement Coordinator, Election@Bard

Sadia intends to major in Global and International Studies with a concentration in Human Rights. “To me, voting is not only a duty but a privilege we have as Americans, one that many people still do not have globally. Political participation is crucial in influencing the decisions that people in power make for us. It is critical we exercise this right so that our voices are heard.”

CCE Office Hours: Mondays 1:30p – 5:00p & Thursdays 10:30a- 12:30p

Adrian Costa ’21
Campus Engagement Coordinator, Election@Bard

Adrian is a sophomore intending to major in Political Studies and Theater. “I care about elections because it is the quintessential foundation of democracy, and I believe everybody has the right and privilege to engage the political system through education, discourse, activism, and most importantly, voting.”

CCE Office Hours: Mondays 1:30p- 5:00p

Kathy Gaweda

Ambassador, Vote Everywhere

Kathy is a sophomore and intends to major in Global International Studies. “It probably sounds cliche but voting is a tool through which we can make our voices heard. It reminds me that although politics feels like some elusive force it has the power to change our lives and we, in turn, have to power to change it.”

CCE Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:30p – 5:00p & Fridays 1:30p – 5:00p

Past Leadership


Carly Hickey ’18
Club Head, Election@Bard
2017 Ambassador, Vote Everywhere

Carly Hickey graduated from Bard College in 2018, with a degree in Asian Studies and a  concentration in Chinese Language and Literature. In the summer of 2017, Carly worked at the Bard Center for Civic Engagement as the office intern. While working for the CCE, she often volunteered with Election@Bard in helping register first-year, transfer, and returning students to vote. Through this experience, she has realized the importance of registering students to vote and is dedicated to engaging and educating young student voters.

Reclaiming Your Rights, Fighting Disenfranchisement

Voter suppression of college students in Dutchess County was rampant until 1999, when Bard and Vassar students—with the support of both institutions—threatened a lawsuit against the Dutchess County Board of Elections. In response, a committee appointed by the county legislature, consisting of the late Woody Klose, Kristen Jemiolo, and Marcus Molinaro (the current county executive), explored the issue and reaffirmed the right of college students to vote where they live and study, a right already upheld by the Supreme Court in 1979.

The committee recommended that the County Board of Elections “encourage the franchise among students.” After the removal of Republican Election Commissioner William Paroli Sr. on unrelated corruption charges, students were permitted to register to vote. However, in the dozen years since, students have still faced periodic problems, including frivolous challenges at the polls and shifting requirements for providing proof of residence. Bard has consistently advocated for student voting rights and attempted to ensure that students are properly registered. It has also supported litigation (as recently as 2009) to see that student votes are counted.

Your rights are once again under fire. Election Commissioner Erik Haight has rejected the proposal to locate the District 5 polling site on the Bard College campus, which would make it safer for students, disabled voters, and those without cars. Tell Haight  that polls should be where people are: contact him by calling (845)-486-2473, or emailing ehaight@dutchessny.gov.

Current: Fight for a Polling Site on Bard Campus

Election@Bard co-head Eva-Marie Quinones ’17 published this article giving background on the fight for an on-campus polling site.
Jonathan Becker, Director CCE, Election Commissioner Haight’s Decision Breeds Cynicism
Jonathan Becker, Director CCE, A Response to Commissioner Haight
Jonathan Becker, Colleges Should Promote and Defend Student Voting

2012: Class Action Lawsuit, Students vs. Dutchess County BOE

During the 2012 election season, voter registration forms were rejected from Bard, Culinary Institute of America, Marist and Vassar students. With the help of the NYCLU, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the Dutchess County Board of Elections. The affected students successfully challenged a decision by Dutchess County Republican Elections Commissioner Erik Haight to reject their applications because they didn’t list their dormitory name.

Dutchess college students win voting rights suit with federal court settlement
NYCLU Press Release on Bard Students’ Lawsuit against Dutchess County Board
US District Court Complaint
Settlement between Commissioner Haight and Bard Students 
Students and Faculty Purged from Rolls

November 3, 2009: Student Intimidation

In 2009, voter intimidation and a poorly written legal decision by Judge Brands in Poughkeepsie led to students being needlessly challenged at the ballot box. Many of those challenged students were required to vote via affidavit ballot, even if living at the exact same address where they were registered. This was an effective tool, as affidavit ballots are frequently disqualified over technicalities during the counting process.

Bard Students Unhappy with Voting Hassle
-Watch the video here
Voter Suppression, Dutchess Style
New York Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Student Petitioners

1999–2000: Students Denied Right to Vote Locally

In 1999, Bard and Vassar students joined together to challenge Republican Election Commissioner William Paroli Sr.’s illegal impediments to student voter registration. In 2000, a bipartisan county legislative committee looked into the matter and concluded unanimously that not only do students have the right to vote locally, but “The Dutchess County Board of Elections should encourage the use of voting franchise among students.” Even so, it took Paroli’s conviction on an unrelated felony to produce change and allow students the right to vote where they live, work and study.

Student Activists for Voting Equality Campaign Overview (1999)
Poughkeepsie Journal Article on Voting Campaign (1999)
Dutchess County Executive Response Letter (2000)
Report from the Dutchess County Legislature Committee on Student Voting (2000)
Residence Questionnaire

This page shows the candidates on the ballot for students registered locally. If you’re registered elsewhere, use this tool from Ballotpedia to find your sample ballot.

Election@Bard will provide shuttles from Kline Bus Stop to polling places on Election Day. Look out for more details!

Are you registered to vote out of state? Do you need an absentee ballot? Click here to apply for one. 

U.S. Senate – New York

Kirsten Gillibrand (Democratic party nominee) (Incumbent)
Chele Farley (Republican party and reform party nominee)

U.S. House of Representatives – New York 19th Congressional District:

John Faso (Republican party, conservative party, independence party and reform party nominee) (Incumbent)
Antonio Delgado (Democratic party, working families party and women’s equality party nominee)
Steven Greenfield (Green party nominee)
Diane Neal (Independent)

New York State Governor

Andrew Cuomo (Democratic party, independence party, working families party, and women’s equality party nominee) (Incumbent)
Marcus Molinaro (Republican party, conservative party and reform party nominee)
– Larry sharpe (libertarian party nominee)
Howie Hawkins (Green party nominee)

New York State Attorney General

Christopher Garvey (Libertarian party nominee)
Letitia James (Democratic party nominee)
Keith Wofford (Republican party and conservative party nominee)
Nancy Sliwa (Reform party nominee)
Michael Sussman (Green party nominee)


New York State Comptroller

– Thomas DiNapoli (Democratic party, working families party, independence party, reform party, and women’s equality party nominee)
– Mark dunlea (Green party nominee)
– Jonathan Trichter (reform party and conservative party nominee)


New York State Senate – District 41

– Susan serino (Republican party, conservative party, independence party, and reform party nominee) (incumbent)
– Karen Smythe (Democratic party, working families party and women’s equality party nominee)


New York State Assembly – District 103

– Kevin cahill (Democratic party, working families party nominee)


Dutchess County Legislature – District 22

– Fay Garito (Republican party, conservative party, independence party, and reform party nominee)
– Tara langworthy (Democratic party, Working Families party and Women’s Equality Party nominee)


Dutchess County Family Judge

– karen Hagstrom (Republican party, conservative party, independence party, reform party Nominee)
– Jeffrey Martin (democratic party, working families party, independence party, women’s equality party, and green party nominee)

Dutchess County Surrogate Judge

– Michael Hayes (Republican party, conservative party, independence party, reform party, working families party and green party nominee)
– Thomas mansfield  (democratic party, working families party, independence party, women’s equality party, reform party and green party nominee)


Registering to Vote

College students can vote in their home district or at school.

Register to Vote Locally:
On-Campus Residents

On-campus residents who wish to vote locally, in-person, may download a pre-formatted form below. On election day, we provide free polling-place shuttles for on-campus registered voters. Your on-campus registration remains active until you move off-campus.

You must input your Bard College mailbox number in the blank field, MSC#___. For Section 13, you must input either your NYS Driver’s License number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

For free mailing, drop your form off at the Campus Center Voter Registration Dropbox.
If you would like a free voter registration form and help registering, drop by the Center for Civic Engagement (Manor Gatehouse). 

Register to Vote Locally:
Off-Campus Students

Off-campus residents are located in different voting districts and must register to vote using their off-campus housing addresses. Students should re-register at their new address if they have moved since their previous registration. Once they have been successfully registered to vote, off-campus residents will receive a postcard informing them of their polling place.

For Section 13, you must input either your NYS Driver’s License number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

For free mailing, drop your form off at the Campus Center Voter Registration Dropbox.

If you would like a free voter registration form and help registering, drop by the Center for Civic Engagement (Manor Gatehouse).

Vote by Mail:
In Your Home State

Some states allow for voting by mail, commonly referred to as absentee voting. Voting by mail is usually a two-step process, you must:

  1. Register to Vote In Your Home State.
  2. Submit an Absentee Ballot Request Form. Be sure to confirm whether your home state allows first-time voters to vote by mail.

Voter Registration Events

Office Hours at the CCE Gatehouse:
M – 1:30-5pm
T – 2:30-5pm
W – 10:00am -1:00pm
TH  – 10:30am -12:30pm
F – 1:30-5pm

National Voter Registration Day
Tuesday, September 25th, 5-7pm, Kline Commons

Tivoli Street Painting Festival
Saturday, September 29th, 9am-5pm

Hannah Arendt Center Conference
October 11th and 12th


I forgot . . .

. . . am I already registered?

Use the website linked here to confirm whether you’re already registered by choosing a state and inputting the required identifying information.

Advocacy Polling

Our voting district’s population center is here at home, at Bard. Why must we travel 3 miles to vote?

Join the campaign! Sign our letter of support and drop it off in the collection box at the Campus Center InfoDesk >>>

This concern follows a history of voting accessibility issues for college-age voters in Dutchess County. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Symm vs. United States that denying college students the presumption of bona fide residency was unconstitutional. Decades after that decision, college students in Dutchess County faced undue and unjustified barriers to voting. The egregious disenfranchisement tactics occurred consistently until 2004. During that time, young registered voters in Dutchess County were systematically barred from voting through the use of a “supplemental” questionnaire. The Board of Elections required this supplemental form exclusively from voters residing at college residences. The practice ended in 2004, after students and administrators from Bard, Vassar, and Marist, civil rights organizations, and a bipartisan group of local elected officials united to put an end to this unjust practice. Since then, conditions have improved, but litigation was required in 2009 and 2012 to ensure the equal treatment and enfranchisement of college-age voters.

In addition to the unnecessary distance, the polling site is located on an unlit and high-speed county road that has no pedestrian sidewalks. The present polling site is irrefutably inaccessible by foot. A polling site on Bard’s campus would be immediately accessible by foot to 68 percent of all voters in this voting district.

Furthermore, the current polling site is inaccessible by mass transit. However, a polling site at Bard College would be accessible by LOOP bus. It is important to note that, in 2010, NYS Election Law was amended to give preference to sites accessible by mass transit; “each polling place designated, whenever practicable, shall be situated directly on a public transportation route” (NY Elec L § 4-104 [6] [a]).


The Voter Breakdown

How far are we from the polls?

From State Survey…

…to Election Day Reality

Support the Cause: Sign Our Letter of Support

There’s a collection box at the InfoDesk.