A state appeals court has sided with eight Bovina second-homeowners in a right-to-vote case.
The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court ruled last week against an appeal filed by the Delaware County Board of Elections, which sought to remove Hall Willkie, Juliet Lauricella, Thomas Lauricella, David Hendricks, Julianne Bond-Shapiro, David Spry, Maria Spry and Stephen Robbins from the Bovina voting rolls.
Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dowd ruled last year that citizens with more than one home in the state have the right to choose either as their residence for voting purposes. He ordered the second-homeowners be restored the right to vote in Bovina.
Attorney Frank Miller of Albany represented Delaware County in the appeal, and argued that Dowd's standard was far too lax.
"Under the election law, your residence is defined as your domicile, where you intend to make your home," Miller previously told The Daily Star. "In this case, one of the Bovina residents had not been to his home all winter. The driveway was chained off and filled with several feet of snow."
But the appellate court's Oct. 23 decision upholds Dowd's ruling.
"Each petitioner listed the Bovina address on his or her driver's license, and there is nothing in the record to indicate any petitioner voted elsewhere while registered to vote in Bovina," reads the appellate court decision.
"Further, in their own words, petitioners expressed the fact that, although their employment requires them to maintain another residence, their intent is to spend as much of their lives in Bovina as possible."
In a news release, the Willkie, Farr and Gallagher law firm said the decision could smooth the way for other second-homeowners.
"These voters care deeply about Bovina, and knew in their hearts they had the right to vote there, even when election officials disagreed. Despite official threats of criminal prosecution for trying to exercise their right to vote, they persevered," attorney Bruce Kraus said in the release.
Willkie, Farr and Gallagher, with about 600 attorneys in six countries, is the world's 58th-largest law firm in terms of revenue, according to the magazine American Lawyer.
The firm took the case pro bono.