Friday, October 24, 2014

Court Rules In Kiryas Joel Voting Inspector Challenge

Photo News and Failed Messiah report on a New York state trial court decision handed down this week in Convers v. County of Orange, (Dutchess Cty. Sup. Ct., Oct. 21, 2014) (Docket). The case grows out of ongoing friction between the largely Satmar Hasidic Jewish village of Kiryas Joel and residents of the surrounding town of Monroe. Apparently after the citizens' group United Monroe complained that voters at polling places in Kiryas Joel were being bullied into voting for candidates supported by the Kiryas Joel Satmar Rebbe (the village's religious leader), the Board of Elections approved six outside voting inspectors.  However, five days before the Sept. 4 primary, the appointment of the voting inspectors was rescinded without formal explanation, and the would-be inspectors sued. The Board has variously cited cultural differences, or failure to obtain approval of the Republican voting commissioner, as the basis for the inspectors' removal.  Justice Maria Rosa this week ruled that the inspectors' removal was arbitrary and capricious, and they should be reappointed. However she did not require that they be assigned to Kiryas Joel. Justice Rosa did rule that inspectors could not be assigned on the basis of religion. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus reacted saying that if outside inspectors are to be appointed, it should be done county-wide, rather than targeting Kiryas Joel.