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Several Candidate Petitions Invalidated In 21st Congressional Race

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The New York State Board of Elections has finalized its review of candidate petitions for the June federal primary ballot.

It appears that only Republicans face a primary in the Congressional race for the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Bill Owens in New York’s 21st district. The New York State Board of Elections has reviewed and invalidated several candidates’ filings.  Democrat Stephen Burke has been thrown off, according to Board of Elections Spokesman John Conklin, due to signature problems.  “Based on the objections, we determined 142 signatures were invalid. That left 1,049 and the number needed to be on the ballot is 1,250.”

Burke did not return calls in time for broadcast. The Watertown Daily Times reports that he will appeal the decision at the state Supreme Court on Monday.

The Board of Elections also invalidated Green Party candidate Donald Hassig’s primary ballot petition because his mailed petitions arrived late. But Hassig says he followed the rules.  “I went on the New York State Board of Elections website and read their instructions carefully for how to file the designated petition. And I understand what happened. There was a new federal court order that changed all that. The Board of Elections did not do their job and revise their instructions accordingly, and I’m the one that’s suffering for it.”

Elections spokesman John Conklin says the rules are clear.  “The court order is absolutely posted on our website. It is on the first page of the political calendar for the primary, which every candidate has to look at, because that’s the only way they know when the dates are to file their petition. So the entire explanation of the rules about what you’re going to do if you mail your petition were on the first page of the political calendar and he had to have seen that.”

Republican Matt Doheny was thrown off the Conservative Party ballot, while Republican Elise Stefanik was booted from the Independence ballot. Both remain on the Republican Primary ballot.
Conklin explains they did not have appropriate authorization from the respective parties.  “If you’re going to run under the endorsement of a party and you’re not a member of that party you must have the permission of the party to do it. That’s called an authorization. Sometimes you’ll hear it referred to as a Wilson Pakula authorization.”

Without such authorization, the Board of Elections automatically invalidates the petition.

Stefanik campaign attorney Jim Walsh explains that the campaign had collected petitions in hopes of obtaining the Independence Party’s authorization.  “If it’s possible to get the Independence Party endorsement, that would be something that the campaign would have liked. We thought that was a possibility, that they would authorize her to be a candidate. Towards the end of the petitioning process it became clear that we were not going to get their authorization. But at the same time many voters had signed our petition. In fairness to them, we filed it anyway, because once you have a petition, what else are you supposed  to do with it?”

There will be no primaries in the 21st district’s Working Family, Independence and Conservative, and Green party races. If Stephen Burke loses his court appeal, there will be no primary in the Democratic race. There will be a Republican primary between Stefanik and Doheny.

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