Bethel, NY - Group Challenging New Chasidic Voters Submitted Photos of Their Boarded-up Bungalows
Bethel, NY - Sullivan County Legislator Dave Sager and a group he founded formally challenged on Thursday 150 voter registrations of primarily Hasidic seasonal residents in the Town of Bethel.
Sager said he and the Voters for Election Integrity do not believe the newly registered voters meet the residency criteria of election law.
Sager held a news conference in the Government Center lobby, then submitted a file on each new registered voter to the county Board of Elections.
These profiles include information on each new registered voter and photographs of boarded-up bungalow colonies. He said that most of the new voters live in Brooklyn and come for a few weeks in the summer.
Sager founded VEI after a surge of registrations this summer that came after the Town of Bethel and the United Talmudical Academy went to court over a hastily constructed shul on Schultz Road.
While attempts to reach one of the leaders of the registration drive failed, one property owner was angered by the challenge.
“This is an issue of all Hasidim in Bethel feeling that they are being hampered and discriminated by some elected officials,” said Moshe Goldberger, a Brooklyn tax consultant who recently registered in Bethel.
“The unfortunate debacle with the shul on Schultz Road just served as the straw that broke the camel’s back, where we are convinced that, had it been any other group that built such a magnificent, safe structure, the Town of Bethel would have hosted a big grand-opening celebration. But being that the Hasidim built it, they bluntly attempted to stop it at all costs,” said Goldberger.
One of the main arguments Sager and the VEI will use is that the overwhelming majority of these registrations came from bungalow colonies, which are licensed by the Department of Health as seasonal facilities.
Because the state recognizes these as temporary dwellings, Sager said, a colony does not meet the standard of “a fixed, permanent and principal home,” which is what defines a residence in election law.
“When somebody in the Board of Elections gets 15 registrations from the same address out of a bungalow colony, shouldn’t that raise a red flag that it should be questioned?” Sager said.
“We believe we have a great argument. Isn’t it appropriate to have the discussion in the first place? This is the essence of democracy,” he said.
Elections Commissioner Faith Kaplan said she and Commissioner Rodney Gaebel would need time to review the packets.
She said the challenged voters would likely have to submit affidavit ballots.
The commissioners do have the option of asking the sheriff’s office to investigate the addresses.
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