On-Campus Voting at Bard College
America is a world leader in election complexity. Election@Bard, CCE, and many volunteers from Bard and the community are available to help. Below, we attempt to answer some frequently asked questions that can help you on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. There are also rules in place for the new voting site in and around the Bertelsmann Campus Center MPR (and please note that the Campus Center will be closed to all but essential business on Election Day).
If you have any questions before the election, please email Election@Bard at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have challenges on or before election day, you can also reach out to Election@Bard by texting 'Bardvotes' to 56525. After you receive your instant confirmation message, you can send Election@Bard a text letting them know what your situation is and they will get back to you ASAP. Election@Bard will also have tables situated both outside of Kline and on the pathway to the Campus Center where they can help you.
Where and when can I vote?
For the first time ever, students, faculty and staff who live on campus or in Election District 5 in Red Hook can vote at the Bertelsmann Campus Center MPR, which will be open to voters (and only to voters) from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm. This is a great victory and we believe that it will lead to far more voter-friendly and safer options for Bard voters. (Please note that there are actually two polling sites in D5 so you can also choose to vote at St. John’s Episcopal in Barrytown).
Please note that the Bard site is for people registered in District 5, which covers the Bard campus and surrounding communities. If you are registered in Tivoli you vote at the Tivoli Firehouse. There are multiple polling sites in the Town of Red Hook, and you can find your location here. Please note (as will be explained below) you should vote in the polling site according to where you live. If you have moved since you registered you may be situated in a different district and should vote from that district: you can ask for an affidavit ballot.
Special Voting and COVID Rules
We are committed to making the election as safe as possible, this applies both to Covid-19 and other safety issues. The agreement which allows for a polling place at Bard and at St. John’s Barrytown makes this much easier, because there will be shorter lines and less opportunity for Bard voters and other voters to intermingle. Since the vast majority of voters in the district live on campus, many have voted early, and Barrytown remains a voting option, we expect relatively few off-campus voters on campus, though we welcome those that come. There will be senior Bard administrators and security staff at the polling site and on Annandale Road all day and access to the campus remains limited to voters, poll workers and vetted volunteer staff.
To ensure that voting is safe, the following special rules will be in force:
1) The Bertelsmann Campus Center will be closed except to voters, poll workers and watchers, and Voter Welcome Volunteers. The post office will operate, as last spring, through its external window. All other services, including the bookstore, DTR, and offices on the second floor will be closed. Classes will be moved or rescheduled, and you should consult with your professors. You cannot cross through the Campus Center and if you are picking up mail, you must follow electioneering rules (see below).
2) All parking from North Ravine Road will be prohibited except for off campus voters, who will be expected to park in the admissions lot or in the handicap accessible parking places adjacent to the Campus Center.
3) Due to electioneering and COVID safety rules, non-voters will are expected to remain at least 100 feet away from the Campus Center, except when picking up mail. This will be marked off by ropes. All student voters at Bard will be asked to show their Involvio App and other voters will be asked COVID safety questions. All voters will be expected to wear masks, special poll workers are assigned with sanitizing the interior of the polling location, and we will be enforcing strict social distancing rules.
4) Electioneering rules are in effect. No one who is within 100 feet of the polling place, including voters, can advocate for a candidate or wear buttons, hats, shirts, masks or other clothing that display the name of a party or political candidate or one of their slogans. For COVID safety reasons, we are prohibiting any gatherings or loitering within 100 feet of the Campus Center and on the path from the admission parking lot to the Campus Center.
5) Other safety issues: Senior administrators and staff will be present at the polling site all day, as will Bard Security. We expect any non-Bard votes who come to campus to come, park, vote and leave peacefully and we equally expect the Bard community to treat voters with respect and to allow them to come, vote, and leave in peace. The campus remains closed except for voters and poll workers and those who have received specific exemptions.
If I asked for an absentee ballot, can I still vote in person?
Yes. According to New York State Law, “Even if you request or cast and return an absentee ballot, you may still go to the polls and vote in person.” Of course, this is only the case if you are registered in the district where you try to vote.
Can I drop off my absentee ballot at the polling site?
There will be a drop box, but only for Dutchess County voters. If you are voting absentee elsewhere you should mail your ballot as soon as possible. If you need stamps please contact Election@Bard.
How do I know if I am registered to vote locally?
You should know if you completed a registration form, but sometimes clerical errors occur. You can check if you are registered at: https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/voterSearch.aspx.
If you have any questions or concerns, Election@Bard has a full list of registered voters in District 5 and the Town of Red Hook so you can email them. If you cannot find your name, please use the search process to check similar spellings, as there are often input errors, and note the spelling before going to the polling station.
Election@Bard has a complete list of all registered voters in the Town of Red Hook (including campus, Tivoli, Red Hook Village, Barrytown and the greater Town of Red Hook) and can be reached at Election@bard.edu.
If you believe you registered on campus and cannot find yourself listed anywhere, please contact Election@Bard, as they have records of all people registered this year.
What if I have moved since I registered to vote?
You can still vote, assuming you registered to vote in Red Hook (or Dutchess County) and still live there.
If you moved within the same voting district, say, from one part of campus to another, you may still vote at Bard MPR. If you have moved off campus to Tivoli or to Red Hook (or anywhere else in Dutchess County), you may still vote, but you must go to the district where you live and complete an affidavit ballot (this is a written ballot which will be counted if the information you provide is accurate). If you moved states or counties and have not registered, you will not be able to vote. You should register and vote for the next election.
If you are in the wrong polling site and need transportation, Election@Bard can help you get to the right polling place. Please text 'Bardvotes' to 56525. After you receive your instant confirmation message send us a text letting us know what your situation is and we will get back to you ASAP.
What if I am “not in the polling book?”
Ask the election inspector to look again. Sometimes they make mistakes or you are entered with an incorrect spelling. If you have a commonly misspelled name, ask them to look again. The election inspectors can call the Board of Elections
If you have moved at all, you may be registered elsewhere. You can also look for your registration at: https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/voterSearch.aspx.
What if something goes wrong at the polls?
Election inspectors will try and help you. There will also be officials from Bard College, wearing a Bard CCE button, who are registered “poll watchers,” present in the MPR and you can feel free to ask the for assistance or clarification of your rights, but not any information about who to vote for or any information about candidates (as that is electioneering) and they will likely have to walk out of the polling area to advise.
If for some reason you are not in a polling book and you cannot find where you are registered, or if an error occurred in the voter registration process (you filled out a form but were not registered), or if you are told to complete an affidavit ballot and you believe that is incorrect, you can go to Poughkeepsie to appeal to a judge to be allowed to vote on a machine. In this case, you should contact Election@Bard. Please text 'Bardvotes' to 56525. After you receive your instant confirmation message send us a text letting us know what your situation is and we will get back to you ASAP. They will see if they have documentary evidence of your registration. Election@Bard will run shuttles to the Board of Elections in Poughkeepsie as needed.
Who are Election Inspectors and who are Poll Watchers and what can they do?? Can a Poll Watcher harass me or ask me questions?
At the polls, there are “Elections Inspectors,” or “poll workers” generally from both major political parties, who are hired by the Board of Elections and trained to oversee the voting process. They are responsible for the conduct at the polls and the arbiters of disputes (potentially in consultation with the Board of Elections). The Elections Inspectors will ask you for your name, your signature and may ask for identification, if you have registered in the past two years and did not provide a social security number.
There are also poll watchers, who tend to be partisan officials from each party. These poll watchers only have the right to observe proceedings. You do not have to answer any questions from them and likely what you say can be used against you. They do not have the right to ask you questions about where you live, who you will vote for, where you are from, etc. They may issue a “challenge,” but this will not stop you from voting: that decision can only be made by election inspectors.
There will be officials from Bard College, wearing Bard CCE buttons, who are registered “poll watchers,” present in the MPR polling station and you can feel free to ask the for assistance or clarification of your rights, but not any information about who to vote for.
What if I am “challenged?”
If you moved, or if you have a signature that differs from that on the roll, or if your ID seems odd, you may be “challenged”. Under these circumstances, you can still vote using the voting machine. You will only be required to take an oath confirming that the information you are providing is accurate.
What type of identification do I need to vote?
If you are not a first-time voter in Red Hook, or if you provided a social security number with your voter registration, you should not need any form of identification. If you are a first-time voter who did not provide a social security number, you may be asked for ID (and it is not a bad idea to have one anyhow). Acceptable forms of ID include some sort of valid photo identification, be it a current Bard ID card, a driver’s license or a passport. The ID is for identification purposes only and not for residency and need not contain your current address.
Can I demonstrate my voting preference at the polls?
No. If you are wearing a button or T-shirt that is visible advocating for a candidate or party, you may be asked to leave the polling site. It is considered electioneering, which includes “soliciting votes or distributing, wearing or carrying political literature, posters, banners or buttons or displaying refreshments showing a candidate or party’s name.”
Do I get an “I voted” sticker?
Red Hook Town Board Votes for On-Campus Polling Place
On August 26, 2020 the Red Hook Town Board voted unanimously to move the polling site in District 5 to the Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson. The recommendation is forwarded to Election Commissioners in Dutchess County, who will make a final determiniation.
Watch the presentation offered by the Election@Bard team: Adrian Costa (also Speaker for the Student Body), Sadia Saba, and Sarah deVeer (’17), CCE Outreach Coordinator, starting at mintue 35:00.
Spring 2020 Update
The fight to relocate Bard's polling place to campus has been revitalized as of Spring 2020. Election@Bard and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, now represented by Venable LLP, a New York City-based law firm, recently submitted a letter to the Dutchess County Board of Elections demanding the relocation of Bard's polling place to campus. The group is open to exploring possible litigation should the request not be complied with.
The Andrew Goodman Foundation
The Andrew Goodman Foundation was created in 1966 by Robert and Carolyn Goodman to carry on the spirit and the purpose of their son Andrew’s life. Today, our work harnesses the legacy of courageous civic action to grow new leaders of change: young adults bitten by the spirit of activism (like Andy). Our campus coalitions spread a culture of participatory democracy, promoting the right to vote while incubating a new civic-minded generation.
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. The 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  [a]).
Voter Map Factsheet (PDF)