By STEVE BITTENBENDER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – The League of Women Voters of New York State filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the state’s Board of Elections, seeking to postpone the June 28 primary for statewide offices.
Along with two voters, the organization claims the board used congressional maps that a state judge threw out to determine if candidates’ petitions to join the primary were successful.
Under New York election laws, parties may nominate candidates for the primary at conventions. Those who do not get nominated that way can submit petitions to get on the ballot. However, those aspiring candidates must get 500 signatures from registered voters in at least half of the state’s congressional districts.
The lawsuit said the board certified primary candidates on May 4, a week after the New York State Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that the new 26-district map featured districts unfairly tilted toward Democrats.
The new map of congressional districts is expected to be released on Friday.
Besides moving the primary to Aug. 23 – the same date as the primary for the new congressional districts – the league and other plaintiffs want the deadline extended for circulating petitions for statewide offices.
“The State Board of Elections, apparently with the support of the leaders of both major political parties, put in place a deliberately exclusionary electoral regime for statewide offices designed to limit further competition in the primary and from independent candidates in the general election,” Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director of the league, said in a statement.
Efforts were unsuccessful, at time of this publishing, to get a response from the Board of Elections.
Petra Gopfert, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said she wants to vote for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in either the gubernatorial or lieutenant governor primary.
Mr. Cuomo resigned from office last August after a report found several women’s sexual harassment complaints against him to be credible. Mr. Cuomo disputed the report but left office saying he did not want it, and a likely impeachment, to be a distraction as the state recovered from COVID-19.
“It is not satisfactory to me that I might be able to vote for Mr. Cuomo as an independent or a write-in,” Ms. Gopfert stated in her affidavit. “If I were to do that – vote for him as an independent or a write-in in the general election – I would be deprived of my ability to support Mr. Cuomo as the standardbearer for the Democratic party, and to express my support for the Democratic party in the general election.”
Loulise Erskine, the other plaintiff in the case, stated in her affidavit that she wants to vote for Paul Nichols in the Democratic primary for governor.
Mr. Nichols did not make the primary ballot. Over the weekend, he and two other people filed a state lawsuit in Manhattan seeking to move all primary elections to Aug. 23.