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Another day, another lawsuit in the village of Monticello. But this time, a village trustee is suing the Board of Elections and the Town of Thompson Democratic committee, amidst allegations of racial discrimination and voter suppression. Time Warner Cable News Reporter Eva McKend has the details.
MONTICELLO, N.Y. - "It's definitely going to be hassle for people that don't have a car and don't have money for a cab," said Ashley Serrano.
"I would urge anybody and everybody that can walk to get out there and vote, no matter where it is," said Craig Isaac.
"I have no objection to the firehouse. It's closer to my home," said Lillian Goldberg.
In a lawsuit, Monticello Trustee Rochelle Massey says the move of this Tuesday's primary polling location to the Monticello Firehouse in place of the Ted Stroebele Community Center is racially motivated.
"This is a place that has been used historically. It's the place where everyone in the community knows the largest number of minority voters vote. It's a racially polarized election. It's been made racially polarized and it's clear so that's why they are doing this," said her Attorney Michael Sussman.
The Sullivan County Board of Elections says it is one defendant that should not be listed in the suit.
"It's a function of the party and solely a function of the party in which the Board of Elections plays no role whatsoever," said Ann Prusinski, the Sullivan County Democratic Commissioner of Elections.
She says the Democratic Committee has met the standards with its choice.
"The Firehouse offers far superior parking facilities, greater safety, greater security and greater convenience for a majority of the people," Prusinski added.
In the lawsuit Massey says, the community center has been used for decades and to force her supporters who are largely African American to walk to the fire house is a grave injustice. She is calling for a hold on the election until the community center is also offered as an option.
"Hopefully those involved especially if they are Democrats with a large "D," and represent the Democratic party, a party to which African American voters have shown great allegiance over the years will understand that they shouldn't attempt to suppress the African American vote in a primary," said Sussman.
"Mr. James has the option guaranteed by state election law to hold that election wherever he chooses as the chair of the party and as the individual paying for every aspect of that election. He has chosen wisely to use one of the two facilities in the village of Monticello that are certified by the state, the board and the ADA," said Prusinski.
And then there's the issue raised by some residents that the center has recently been a source of voter intimidation.
"I'm sure there are white people who think the only people who engage in those kinds of tactics are black and they are fools if they believe that. I know of no evidence that the Stroebele Center is a place of any greater voter intimidation than any place else in the United States. If someone believes that they should have done something about it at the time, not try to eliminate the voting location," said Sussman.
The suit also claims Massey was the last to know about the location.
She argues Monticello United candidates, endorsed by the committee, were told in advance.
But Prusinski maintains the lawsuit is a "belligerent approach to the democratic process," and an attack on "genuine leadership."
A court date is scheduled for Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Sullivan County Family Court.