Eight Bovina second-homeowners were victorious over the Delaware County Board of Elections in state appeals court last week.
It was determined in a right-to-vote case that they should be able to cast their ballots in the town.
The decision upheld the ruling of Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dowd, who last year said citizens with more than one home in the state have the right to choose which is their residence for voting purposes.
It was argued by lawyer Frank Miller of Albany, who defended the board, that "under the election law, your residence is defined as your domicile, where you intend to make your home. In this case, one of the Bovina residents has not been to his home all winter. The driveway was chained off and filled with several feet of snow."
However, in the ruling, it was stated that "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."
Bruce Kraus, a lawyer with Willkie, Farr and Gallagher, which defended the residents, commented that "these voters care deeply about Bovina, and know in their hearts they had the right to vote there, even when election officials disagreed."
We support the appellate court's ruling. That these individuals were willing to go to court is in itself indicative of their feelings about the town, and they even did so "despite official threats of criminal prosecution," as Kraus indicated.
There was also, as noted in the court's decision, "no record to indicate any petitioner voted elsewhere while registered to vote in Bovina."
Second-homeowners who are in a situation where they split their lives are undoubtedly well aware of which is their true home, and they should be given the chance to act on that.
Similarly, we also believe that college students should have the right to vote locally if they so choose.
Many of them spend more time living where their school is located as opposed to anywhere else during their collegiate years. Many of them become involved with the community during that time, either through various campus endeavors or of their own volition.
Preventing students who want to vote from having a voice within the community would be punishing them for taking up interest in important issues. Barring them from having a say while they live here seems not only detrimental to forming a positive relationship with them, but seems like the wrong example to be setting in general.