Friday, November 21, 2014
This eastern Sullivan County village appeared to inch closer to dissolution Thursday when the Sullivan County Board of Elections tossed out 62 of 69 voter registration challenges.
It was supporters of the dissolution who filed the challenges.
The voters whose registrations were rejected were apparently aligned with developer Shalom Lamm. His 396-home Hasidic development spurred the move by its opponents to dissolve Bloomingburg into the Town of Mamakating. They feared the development and its residents would overwhelm this one-stoplight village of some 400. Lamm's vote – and those of the family of his business partner, Kenneth Nakdimen - were among the few upheld.
Lack of proof of residency was the primary reason for the rejections, according to the Board of Elections.
"With the exception of a few driver's licenses and/or vehicle registrations with Bloomingburg addresses the returned questionnaires contained virtually NO proof of residency such as paid tax or utility bills, rent payments, tuition receipts or employment verification," said a letter signed by BOE Commissioners Ann Prusiniski and Rodney Gaebel. "On the other hand, EVERY returned questionnaire contained a statement asserting that individual's right to vote from Bloomingburg."
Still, since about 200 votes were apparently cast and sequestered before they were opened, the result of the Sept. 30 dissolution vote won't be known before they're opened and ruled upon by Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan Schick. He had to make a similar decision in the March vote for Mayor, when Lamm opponents successfully challenged more than 100 votes of the developer's supporters.
A leading proponent of the dissolution, who opposes Lamm's development, welcomed the result.
"Yes, it's good news," said Holly Roche, who heads the Rural Community Coalition.
But a spokesman for Lamm denounced the decision.
"Incredibly, the Sullivan County Board of Elections has denied the existence of a Jewish community in Bloomingburg," said Michael Fragin, a spokesman for the Bloomingburg Jewish Community Council and Lamm.
"Anyone coming to Bloomingburg on any day of the week will see Chasidic Jews going about their daily lives. But, according to the Sullivan Board of Elections, there are fewer than five Chasidic Jews living or attending school in Bloomingburg. That some public officials would deny the rights of certain Americans based on their religious beliefs, dress, and language is an affront to the Constitution and should alarm defenders of Jewish rights and voter's rights everywhere."
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