Schenectady County

UPDATE: Judge rejects Alliance Party’s attempt for independent ballot listing

"The law must be applied here," Judge Barry Kramer said in rejecting the Alliance Party's challenge
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Judge Barry Kramer rejected today the argument of Alliance Party attorneys that its candidates’ names should appear on an independent line on the November ballot, meaning any of their candidates with two or more major party endorsements will not get another ballot spot.

The decision in state Supreme Court upholds the Schenectady County Board of Elections; decision to cut three candidates from the Alliance Party line. Those candidates will instead have a small Alliance Party emblem in their name box on their major party ballot line to denote they are also Alliance Party candidates.

In his decision from the bench, Kramer acknowledged Peter Guidarelli, Richard Patierne and Phillip Tiberio’s names on the Alliance Party line didn’t seem to pose any confusion on the ballot. But he couldn’t get around the part of the state election law forbidding a candidate from appearing on an independent nominating line after already being listed with two major parties.

“The law must be applied here,” he said. “That’s the dilemma I’m in.”

Guidarelli and Patierne are Republicans running for the Schenectady County Legislature in District 1, while Tiberio is a Republican running for City Council. Guidarelli and Tiberio are also endorsed by the Conservatives, while Patierne is appearing on the Independence Party line.

Alliance Party attorneys Michael Brockbank and Michael Cuevas pledged to appeal the case to the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court. They also plan to seek an injunction that would prevent the county from mailing out more than 400 absentee ballots that exclude the three candidates from the Alliance Party line.

“We believe [Kramer] erroneously applied the law,” Cuevas said after the decision.

Tiberio was also disappointed by Kramer’s ruling. He said the board omitting his name from the Alliance Party line goes against everything the coalition stood for since establishing itself last year.

“Here we are as a team, we’ve worked together since day one,” he said. “There’s room on the ballot and to put a gray spot there is ridiculous.”

Roger Hull, the co-founder of the Alliance Party and its candidate for Schenectady mayor, characterized the ruling as pitting the major parties against small independent lines. He said the ballot isn’t cluttered and it made no sense to exclude the three names.

“Here, the intent is clearly to go against the people trying to upset the status quo,” he said. “Logic and politics apparently don’t go together too well.”

County Attorney Chris Gardner saw the decision as pragmatic. He cited his own run for county Legislature in 1989, when he didn’t appear on an independent line because he was already endorsed by the Democrats and Conservatives.

“That’s just the way it is,” he said after the ruling.

The ruling also prevents the county from having to reprint ballots. Gardner said a ruling in favor of the Alliance Party would have “thrown the absentee ballot process into chaos” and cost upward of $15,000.

Brockbank and Cuevas tried to argue that excluding the three names didn’t make sense because the independent line is already appearing on the ballot. They claimed the argument to exclude the names relied on an antiquated statute used to simplify the voting process when the county used mechanical machines.

“It defies common sense to vaporize their names from the ballot,” Brockbank said.

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