The Sullivan County Board of Elections will appoint a monitor to review challenges to voter registrations to settle a lawsuit filed by Hasidic Jewish residents in what legal experts call an unprecedented agreement in New York state. A group of 10 Hasidic registered voters from the Catskills village of Bloomingburg sued the Sullivan County Board of Elections in 2015, claiming the board violated the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs alleged the Board of Elections engaged in a “discriminatory campaign to deprive Hasidic Jewish residents of Bloomingburg…of the fundamental right to vote.” U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest approved the settlement Monday.
Sullivan County denied all allegations of discrimination in the settlement. The main attorney for the Sullivan County Board of Elections couldn’t be reached for comment. “An objective, fair-minded advisory monitor…should be a benefit to both the county and to any duly registered, or registering, voter in the village of Bloomingburg,” said another attorney for the village.
Moshe Smilowitz, the lead plaintiff in the case, said in a statement from a spokesman that this litigation shouldn’t have been necessary. “Chasidic Jews have the right to vote and be treated just like anyone else,” he said.
The plaintiffs said Hasidic and Orthodox voters were singled out when the Board of Elections attempted to cancel the registrations of more than 150 residents before local elections. All the voters were eventually allowed to vote. The Board of Elections had questioned whether those voters actually lived in Bloomingburg.
Full Article: Voter-Registration Lawsuit Settled in Unusual Accord – WSJ.