Justice rules against GOP in ballot-line case

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A ruling handed down by state Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte in Onondaga County has scotched the Monroe County Republican Committee’s attempt to deny the Working Families Party a line on ballots in upcoming elections.

DelConte last week dismissed a score of local GOP candidates’ April 7 court complaint seeking to kick Democrats off the Working Families line. The judge threw the lawsuit out on technical grounds. Though DelConte had not needed to formally consider the complaint’s merits, he would have dismissed it if he had considered them, the judge wrote in the April 30 ruling. 

The GOP plaintiffs had until May 3 to file an appeal. As of this morning, no appeal was recorded by the Monroe County clerk’s office. Monroe County Republican Committee chairman Bernie Iacovangelo declined to comment.  

The Monroe County lawsuit was one of nine similar court complaints filed by county Republican organizations around the state seeking to kick Democratic candidates—37 in total—off Working Families Party lines. Other counties targeted were Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Onondaga, Dutchess, Rockland, Saratoga, Suffolk and Ulster. Six of the complaints were dismissed on technicalities. Three were denied on their merits.

Republican officials denied that the complaints were part of a coordinated campaign to harass Democrats. The lawyer who wrote the complaints filed in individual counties—including Monroe—is a staff attorney in the state GOP’s Albany office. 

Filed individually in each of the nine targeted counties, the GOP lawsuits were transferred to Onondaga County, where DelConte heard them all.

The lawsuits maintained that Democratic candidates’ petitions to also run on the Working Families Party line should be invalidated because the Democrats’ electronically signed petitions should have had actual signatures. In three of the nine counties, Republicans sought to substitute GOP candidates for the Democrats they hoped oust, the Albany Times Union reported. 

DelConte cited the Republicans’ failure to name all local Democratic candidates with Working Families Party cross endorsement as cause to dismiss the lawsuit. 

The Republican complaints each argued that the Democratic candidates’ digital petition signatures were invalid because they are not covered by Executive Order 202.7, in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo temporarily suspended a number of state rules as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Republican plaintiffs’ contention that the Democrats’ digital signatures do not fall under Executive Order 202.7 is “logically incomprehensible,” DelConte wrote.  

“The New York State Supreme Court confirmed what we knew all along: that the GOP’s case doesn’t stand up to the facts,” said Sharon Cromwell, deputy state director of the New York Working Families Party, in a statement.

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer.

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