Catskills Hasidim charge voter discrimination, get compensation

February 3, 2016  

A monitor will be appointed to oversee the voting process in a tiny New York village where Hasidic Jewish residents claimed they were being kept from voting, and filed suit.

A court-approved settlement determined that the county will pay over $25,000 to the plaintiffs, and $550,000 in attorneys’ fees.

The New York Post reported Tuesday that 10 residents of Bloomingburg, in the Catskills, sued the Sullivan County Board of Elections last March, accusing it of trying to cancel about 160 Hasidic voter registrations and “engaging in an unyielding discriminatory campaign to deprive Hasidic Jewish residents … of the fundamental right to vote.”

The Board of Elections had claimed it needed proof of residency from the voters.

According to court papers filed Monday, a monitor will be selected by both the residents who sued and the board to serve for five years.

The monitor will have the authority to review the voter challenge questionnaire to ensure it doesn’t “impose an unnecessary burden on the constitutional right to vote,” the court papers said.

Also as part of the agreement, voting materials, as well as signs that inform voters of their rights, will be posted in Yiddish and English.

Judge Katherine Forrest approved the settlement late Monday.

Bloomingburg had a population of 420 in 2010, according to census data.

The Post added that in 2014, the village was accused in a $25 million lawsuit of trying to block members of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community from relocating there, by delaying approvals for a school and a 396-unit townhouse project.

The village and town are seeking to use their political power, economic pressure, zoning laws, and sheer intimidation to prevent a certain type of people from joining their community,” the suit said.

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