Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Proponents for the dissolution of the Village of Bloomingburg have a 40-vote lead after the Sullivan County Board of Elections opened 124 ballots on Monday. But the result of the vote counting may not be solidified for several weeks.
Of the ballots opened, 82 village residents voted to dissolve Bloomingburg into the Town of Mamakating with 42 residents voting against dissolution. There are a total of 70 ballots - including absentee ballots - from voters whose registrations were challenged that have yet to be opened.
Approximately 62 voter registration challenges were upheld following a decision from the board in November. Lack of proof of residency was the primary reason the board issued rejections.
The voters whose registrations were rejected were apparently supporters of developer Shalom Lamm, whose 396-home Hasidic development in the village was the impetus for the Sept. 30 referendum.
Michael Fragin, spokesman for the Bloomingburg Jewish Community Council and Lamm, previously said the board's determinations essentially "denied the existence of a Jewish community" in the village.
Following the opening of the ballots on Monday, Thomas Garry, the attorney representing the challenged voters, filed a motion with Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan Schick to force the board to open the remaining ballots.
A court date of Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. was set where both sides will present their arguments to Schick.
Garry says the board's determinations were "wrong," and that they cannot be applied retroactively.
He says many of the people whose registrations were challenged ahead of the referendum had their votes counted during the general elections in November.
"We're confident that at the end of the day every single voter will have their vote counted," Garry said.
Tom Cawley, an assistant county attorney representing the board, says the county plans to fight the board's determinations.
"The county will put in opposition papers," Cawley said.
If nothing is settled on Dec. 15, a hearing will be scheduled in the future for voters to present oral arguments.
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