POUGHKEEPSIE – Amid widespread public anxiety about 2020 voting processes, ten Dutchess legislators invited fellow county lawmakers to sign a public letter this week, counseling patience on Election Night and expressing confidence in the U.S. electoral process. Unfortunately, no Republican legislators signed.
The letter encourages citizens to vote; shares information on early and absentee voting; and warns against “any attempt to discourage, block, intimidate, or interfere” with anyone’s voting rights. It notes that, to protect public health during Covid, the counting of absentee ballots may “take time, possibly days or even weeks beyond Election Day” in some races. “In the event of a prolonged wait for results,” the signatories urge Dutchess residents to show “patience, restraint, and respect for the electoral process.”
The letter notes that multiple investigations–including two federal probes launched by Republican presidents in 2002 and 2017–have turned up little evidence of voter fraud, either in absentee or in-person voting.
Legislators were invited twice to sign the letter, which was also announced at the October 13 meeting with all legislators present. “It’s really disappointing that no Republican legislators signed,” said Legislator Rebecca Edwards (D-Poughkeepsie), leader of the Democratic caucus. “With worries running high, we hoped this would be a bipartisan effort.”
Democratic caucus members are releasing the letter despite lack of support from across the aisle. They urge Dutchess residents to “disregard all claims of fraud unless they are investigated and confirmed by conclusive evidence” and pledge to do the same.
Assistant Minority Leader Nick Page (D-Beacon/Fishkill) said, “false claims of voter fraud pose a threat to our democracy and elected officials at every level have a responsibility to counter such dishonest narratives. When truth is valued less than party affiliation we all suffer. Elected officials who are unwilling or unable to draw that conclusion are unworthy of their positions.”
The full letter is below and posted online at www.dutchessvoice.com.
A Public Letter to Dutchess County Voters
In a year of unprecedented upheaval and public concern, we, the undersigned Dutchess County legislators, join together to state the following:
* We urge all citizens to exercise their right to vote. Information is available at the link below on how to vote by absentee ballot, through early in-person voting, or on Election Day. From Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, any registered voter in Dutchess County may vote at any of five early voting sites. Alternatively, any New Yorker concerned about the risk of Covid transmission may vote this year by absentee ballot. See the link below to an online portal where registered voters can apply for an absentee ballot to be mailed to you.
* Our democracy depends on the free and fair count of every citizen’s vote. We denounce any attempt to discourage, block, intimidate, or interfere with anyone seeking to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. In particular, in a nation still struggling to overcome the historical legacies of disenfranchisement and racial violence, it is essential to protect the voting rights of Americans of color.
* This year, due to the Covid pandemic, the number of mail-in ballots will be much greater than in past election years. Counting mail-in ballots in New York and other states will take time, possibly days or even weeks beyond Election Day. In the event of a prolonged wait for results, we must all respond with patience, restraint, and respect for the electoral process. Every citizen’s vote must count.
* Numerous investigations have concluded that voter fraud is very rare in the United States. The most thorough study found that, over 14 years, among over one billion votes cast, there were 31 credible cases of fraudulent voting. As the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice has noted, there is no evidence that absentee or by-mail voting results in more fraud than in-person voting. A federal Voting Access and Integrity Initiative launched in 2002 and a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity appointed by President Trump in 2017 both disbanded after finding little evidence of fraud.
We reject recent allegations that we are facing a “rigged” or “fraudulent election” in which “thieving and stealing and robbing” can be expected. We hold the sanctity and security of our electoral process dear, and, as elected officials, we call on Dutchess County residents to disregard all claims of fraud unless they are investigated and confirmed by conclusive evidence. We pledge ourselves to do the same.
By following President George Washington’s example of respect for the electoral processes set forth in the US Constitution, American leaders have enabled our government to stand strong for over two centuries. That tradition must endure.
Legislator Rebecca Edwards, Minority Leader (District 6, Poughkeepsie)
Legislator Nick Page, Assistant Minority Leader (District 18, Beacon / Fishkill)
Legislator Barrington Atkins (District 10, Poughkeepsie)
Legislator Hannah Black (District 4, Hyde Park)
Legislator Craig Brendli (District 8, Poughkeepsie)
Legislator Randy Johnson (District 9, Poughkeepsie)
Legislator Brennan Kearney (District 11, Rhinebeck / Clinton)
Legislator Giancarlo Llaverias (District 1, Poughkeepsie)
Legislator Kris Munn (District 20, Red Hook / Tivoli)
Legislator Frits Zernike (District 16, Fishkill / Beacon)
Information on absentee, early in-person, and Election Day voting in Dutchess County:
New York State absentee application portal and instructions:
Brennan Center Report, “The Truth About Voter Fraud”:
Columbia University voter fraud study: