Democrats Call for Perjury Charge

Claim Dutchess election commissioner lied to court

The Dutchess County Democratic Committee on Monday (Jan. 25) asked the county district attorney to investigate whether Election Commissioner Erik Haight, a Republican, committed perjury.

“To allow someone in charge of our elections to lie to the court with impunity, without opening an investigation, would be unconscionable,” said Elisa Sumner, the committee chair and a former deputy elections commissioner, in a statement.

Erik Haight

Erik Haight

In an email to The Current, Haight responded: “The fact that this baseless attack is coming from the Democratic chairman lobbed toward the Republican commissioner is obviously just a political stunt.”  

The Democrats cited an October decision by a state judge who asserted that Haight had misled her about the feasibility of relocating a polling site from a church in Red Hook to a larger space at Bard College in Annandale. 

According to court documents, Haight submitted an affidavit in which he said that “the election was too close in time to enable a change in the polling site” and that the change would “likely cause voter confusion and result in voters going to the wrong polling place.”

State Supreme Court Justice Maria Rosa ruled that the site could not be moved. However, 10 days later she reversed her decision, citing the fact that Haight and Elizabeth Soto, then the Democratic commissioner, had agreed the day after her ruling to move a voting site from Red Hook Town Hall to a larger space at a middle school. 

The judge wrote that Haight’s sworn assertion “was simply untrue” and ordered the church site moved to Bard.

Hannah Black

Hannah Black

Following the November election, the Democratic committee voted by a wide margin to replace Soto with Hannah Black, who gave up her seat in the Legislature, representing Hyde Park, to take the job. 

Black told the Poughkeepsie Journal that she would advocate “safer election polling sites, reducing wait times during early voting and promptly answering the phones at the Board of Elections because, this year, they did not do so.”

Black also accused her predecessor of “working with Republicans to suppress voting,” a charge that Soto rejected.

After Black’s appointment, Haight told the Mid Hudson News that she “has a reputation of not being particularly bright or hard-working.” When Black called that statement unprofessional, Haight doubled down to the Poughkeepsie Journal: “Discussing someone’s reputation of not being too bright and lazy isn’t an attack. If her feelings are hurt, then this isn’t the right position for her.”

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