The Westchester Independence Party has won its fight to kick out nearly 4,000 members that it accuses of raiding the party to help sway it toward Republican County Executive Rob Astorino in his reelection fight last fall.
The party endorsed his Democratic rival but pursued a purge of the membership of nearly all the voters who registered with it after the beginning of 2012.
The purge of 4,000 members cuts the party down by about 17 percent.
Supreme Court Judge Robert DiBella at the end of February allowed the party to kick out 31 members after he was presented with evidence that they were not in sympathy with the principles of the party, the standard in state law for removing members. The law is designed to prevent raids on minor parties that would turn them into adjuncts of the major parties.
The party appealed DiBella’s ruling on the other 3,000-plus members who didn’t show up to party hearings or send letters contesting their removal. In a ruling Wednesday, the Appellate Division said failing to appear or respond was sufficient evidence under state law.
Peter Tilem, the lawyer for the Independence Party, said it gives the loyal members their vote back.
“When you have 4,000 people that are enrolled in your party that are doing it to subvert the principles of the party it damages the party,” he said.
The voters will still be able to cast ballots but will be moved to the unaffiliated column.
For more on the lower court ruling click here.