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DIRTY POLITICS AND VOTER SUPPRESSION IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

By David Cook

DIRTY POLITICS AND VOTER SUPPRESSION IN LOCAL ELECTIONS 

New York has what we call “Fusion Voting” where multiple parties are listed on the ballot. Most of the 3rd parties are not strong enough to field candidates that can realistically compete without cross endorsement. In some communities’ 3rd party voters are important, because one in three voters enrolled in a 3rd party or no party. Republican (R) and Democrat (D) candidates often seek cross-endorsement from 3rd parties, typically along similar left-right ideological lines. In Monroe, Rs have seen enrollment advantages steadily evaporate in recent years across once solidly red suburban districts.    

Three weeks ago, 13 D candidates in Monroe were sued by a group of Rs seeking to knock the Ds off the Working Families Party (WFP) ballot.  I am running for town board in Mendon. I do not have a WFP designation because I made the decision to run after WFP had made its designations. Nonetheless I was named as a party in the lawsuit. We quickly learned that this lawsuit was repeated in 15 other New York counties.  
 

The lawsuits claimed that authorization certificates permitting the cross-party designations should be invalidated because necessary signatures by party officials were facsimiles instead of originals. WFP in turn argued that based on Covid-19 emergency protocols and more recent state law changes allowing for electronic execution of legal documents that the cases should be dismissed. The lawsuits — funded by the local and state R Party — were brought by a handful of local elected officials, political staffers, and other well-connected party members, and filed by State R Party lawyer.  In my case our town supervisor and his wife challenged the Mendon candidates. 
 

Our law firm was engaged by all the Monroe County candidates to represent them. To be completely frank this lawsuit is a bald face attempt to rig the system. To knock candidates off the ballot of a 3rd party line. All the arguments made by the R lawyers in the Monroe County case were rejected by the court. Then all 15 cases were consolidated in Onondaga County. This week after an intense weekend of briefing and an army of lawyers representing candidates, parties, and county boards of elections a virtual trial was conducted yesterday. 

In Monroe county, the Rs failed to name as parties 15 additional candidates who received WFP designations. In other words, they cherry-picked certain races where they thought they were most vulnerable. We argued, the failure of the Rs to join “necessary parties,” because if a certificate of authorization would be invalid as to some candidates, it could be deemed invalid as to all the candidates, is fatal to their case.  

Judge Delconte went even further in issuing his decision today. He dismissed all of the R claims on procedural grounds for failure to name all necessary parties. But then he wrote, “However, were the Court to reach the merits of the [R] application, the Petitions would be dismissed . . . “  Make no mistake this is a complete and utter smack down of the attempt by the R party to disenfranchise members of the WFP party for no reason other than political gain. It is ugly and wrong. There is no other way to interpret this lawsuit. Now here is the question – if you are a traditional R and learned that some leaders in your party, even your elected officials, changed their registration solely for the purpose of attempting to knock the other party of the ballot, or decided as Rs to meddle in the WFP completely legal process in order to suppressing the vote of WFP, would that bother you? 

 
Let’s be frank party politics especially national platforms have little to do with local town and city elections. Town boards are where the rubber meets the road literally. Roads, sewers, libraries, parks, community centers, etc. are what matter. To think that some party officials are so desperate to retain power to pull this prank in my view should give pause to anyone and cause one to consider not which party they vote for in a local election but what values and integrity they vote for. I submit this is a glaring reason to reconsider who you vote for come November. Your R elected officials participated in this charade. The rule of law prevailed.  

Primary to be held in June, registration and absentee deadlines

The Monroe County Board of Elections announced there will be a primary election in Monroe County on Tuesday June 22, from 6 am to 9 pm. The only primary that affects Mendon’s democratic voters this year is the county court judge election, where there are four candidates for three available jobs. There is no primary for any of the Mendon town positions or for our county Legislative District seat.

The Board of Elections also announced some important deadlines that may affect Mendon’s democrats. These are:

To register to vote: May 28
To change your address: June 2
To apply for absentee ballot: Postmarked by June 15
To return absentee ballot Postmarked by June 22

To check your registration status can visit the county voter app.  https://www.monroecounty.gov/etc/voter/
 
Early Voting will begin on June 12 and end on June 20. Locations and times are available here:  https://www.monroecounty.gov/elections-earlyvoting.
 
Please note, absentee applications will not automatically be mailed this year. However, The temporary illness selection on an absentee application can still be used by any voter who may have Covid concerns. If you want to vote absentee you can request a ballot here:  https://www.monroecounty.gov/elections-absentee
 
 2021 Primary election candidates and races can be found on our site at https://www.monroecounty.gov/elections
 
More information available at the election board’s website:
 http://www.monroecounty.gov/elections-index.php
 
 

MCDC RESPONDS TO LATEST EXAMPLES OF REPUBLICAN POLITICAL THEATER AND POWER-GRABBING STUNTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 13, 2021
MCDC RESPONDS TO LATEST EXAMPLES OF REPUBLICAN POLITICAL THEATER AND POWER-GRABBING STUNTS
JOE CARBONE CLAIMS DEMOCRATIC DONORS “JUMPING SHIP” AS BERNIE IACOVANGELO CHALLENGES DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES ON WFP BALLOT LINE AND NEGLECTS TO FILE LEGALLY MANDATED FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES
(ROCHESTER, NEW YORK) – In recent weeks, instead of governing and meeting the needs of residents and voters, Monroe County Republicans have stepped up their efforts to engage in political theater at the expense of public service:
• On March 31, 2021, Dr. Joe Carbone, president of the Monroe County Legislature, sent a fundraising appeal claiming, among other things, that Democratic donors are “jumping ship” to support Republican candidates;
• On April 8, 2021, the Monroe County Republican Committee (MCRC) filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court to prohibit 37 Democratic candidates from appearing on the Working Families Party ballot line in the 2021 primary and general elections, which GOP chair Bernie Iacovangelo said “was to ensure that all political parties are held to the same standard under state Election Law;”
• Yet as of April 13, 2021, MCRC has failed to meet the legal deadline to file its first campaign finance report of 2021. Article 14 of NYS election law dictates that committees must file said reports with the New York State Board of Elections (NYS BOE) by January 15, 2021.
“In recent days, myself and others have addressed many of these stunts, but I’d like to further address Joe Carbone’s claim that Democratic donors are leaving our party to support Republican candidates,” said Zach King, Monroe County Democratic Committee (MCDC) Chair. I, like so many others, would like proof of that claim, which should be easy to do by looking at the campaign finance reports that both the Monroe County Democratic and Republican Committees filed with the New York State Board of Elections by January 15. MCDC filed ours, and if you check that filing, you’ll see our donors are coming back – and giving more. But you can’t check the Republican filing because, under the leadership of GOP chairman Bernie Iacovangelo and treasurer John Dedes, the Monroe County Republican Committee has not yet filed their first financial disclosure reports for 2021. The party of “fiscal responsibility” is three months late in filing the very simple reports that every political committee in every county in New York State was required to file.”
King continues: “Maybe Democratic donors are, in fact, “jumping ship” to the GOP, but we don’t know for sure because the Monroe County Republicans have not yet filed their financial disclosures. Maybe widely circulating rumors that the Monroe County GOP is six figures in debt are true, be we don’t know for sure because the Monroe County Republicans have not yet filed their financial disclosure.
“These reports are mandated by Article 14 of NYS election law. And as recently as this past Friday, April 9, in a CITY NEWSPAPER article on the topic of the Republicans’ recent lawsuit against the local Working Families Party, Mr. Iacovangelo said, ‘[the lawsuits’] aim was to ensure that all political parties are held to the same standard under state Election Law.’ Apparently, those same standards do not apply to the Republican party of Monroe County — the very same party that calls itself the “law and order party;” has broken the law.
King added that Republicans’ actions show they know they are on the ropes. “Republicans know that Democrats will continue to win because they are meeting the needs of the people they were elected to serve; meanwhile, it’s business as usual for Joe Carbone, who continues to engage in political theater at the expense of public service while Bernie Iacovangelo fails to file legally-mandated campaign finance reports so that no one can verify Carbone’s outrageous claims. Their stunts demonstrate that their true aim is to maintain power through cynicism at the expense of the public good.
“This is not public service and Monroe County residents deserve better. That is why I am calling on the leadership of the Monroe County Republican Committee to immediately provide their legally mandated campaign finance information to the New York State BOE. Republican donors should be demanding the same.”