The Supreme Court Appellate Division in Brooklyn upheld a Westchester judge’s decision Thursday to knock an Independence Party write-in slot off the primary ballot in the Westchester county executive’s race.
The decision likely ends County Executive Rob Astorino’s chances of capturing the Independence line for the general election. The petitions to create a write-in spot on the ballot, called an opportunity to ballot, would have allowed him to challenge New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson for the line Sept. 10.
The party endorsed Astorino in 2009 but switched its support to Bramson, a Democrat, this year.
The court said the petition was filed late and that was a fatal defect. It didn’t address the other issue heard at the lower court, which threw most of the committee that filed the petition out of the party after accusations that they had been part of a raid on the party for the benefit of Astorino.
But the Astorino campaign, which said it would appeal, said the petitions weren’t late because the Board of Elections had extended the filing deadline. In invalidating the petitions, the Supreme Court judge cited several cases saying the 5 p.m. deadline is absolute and the Board of Elections has no authority to extend the filing period.
“Our petition filing was not late,” said Jessica Proud, the spokeswoman for Friends of County Executive Rob Astorino. “The Board of Elections stayed open until 10 p.m. on the night petitions were due to accommodate campaigns. Many campaigns across New York State took advantage of that, filing petition signatures after 5 p.m.—including the campaign of Mr. Astorino’s opponent—yet we have been singled out in this ruling. It makes no sense, and thousands of Independence Party voters who wanted a primary are being disenfranchised as a result.”
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