SARATOGA COUNTY — A Democratic candidate for Clifton Park town justice succeeded in her move for a dismissal of a lawsuit by Republicans aiming to keep her off the Working Families Party line in the June 22 primary.
Jennifer Jeram, the candidate, hired Jim Long to make a motion to dismiss the case against her, which was granted because the statute relied upon by petitioners does not apply to judicial candidates.
Also, the Working Families Party hired attorney Alex Rabb to represent 11 other respondents and he filed a motion to dismiss based upon petitioners’ failure to name the Working Families Party as a respondent; that motion was granted as well.
The GOP lawsuit was among a series of coordinated lawsuits by state Republicans against Democratic candidates throughout New York aiming to keep the Democrats off the Working Families Party line here and in other parts of New York.
The GOP’s lawsuit against the dozen Democrats and the Saratoga County Board of Elections was dismissed by Justice Dianne Freestone in state Supreme Court based in Saratoga County Monday.
The lawsuits alleged that the Working Families Party’s paperwork authorizing Democratic candidates to appear on the ballot is invalid because it was electronically submitted to the Saratoga County Board of Elections and contains digitally copied signatures.
In Saratoga County, Democratic candidates Jerome Holland, Melissa Boxer, Jeram, Alexander Patterson, Michael Williams, Cynthia Young, John Fealy, Christopher Scarincio, Erin Trombley, Tara Garson, John Bishop, and Barbara Turpin, and the Saratoga County Board of Elections were the named respondents.
Freestone’s dismissal said the statute relied upon by the Republicans does not apply to judicial candidates, and therefore Jeram should not have been a respondent.
In an interview, Jeram said she noticed “right off the bat” that she shouldn’t have been included on the lawsuit, because the statute expressly states that the statute in question didn’t apply to judicial candidates. She said she had Albany lawyer James Long file a motion to dismiss the case.
Former U.S. representative John Sweeney filed the lawsuit for the Republican Party. He conceded during a hearing last week that Jeram should not have been included in the action, according to Jeram.
In addition to that oversight, the judge said the Working Families Party was not listed as a named respondent, when it should have been.
There are also pending cases against Democratic candidates and boards of elections in Schenectady, Albany, Onondaga, Monroe, Niagara, and Rensselaer counties by the state GOP.
The case in Schenectady County is to go before a judge April 27, according to the Schenectady County Board of Elections.
Anita Thayer, secretary of the Capital District Working Families Party, said the Working Families Party was not named as a respondent in the GOP’s case against Schenectady County Democrats. Thayer said she expects a dismissal against Schenectady County Democrats as well.
“The lawsuit was not brought correctly to get a resolution on the merits,” Thayer said.
Thayer has previously said that the Working Families Party followed the same process as last year, without complaint. She cited an amendment to election laws and the governor’s executive order that changed some of the way notarizations can be done because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Told of the dismissal in Saratoga County, Schenectady County GOP Chairman Chris Koetzle said the judge appeared concerned with a technicality rather than the merit of the case.
“That’s disappointing,” he said. “What’s important here, and what was important from the beginning was voter integrity. We have to make sure elections are fair, and that they’re honest, and people need to follow the law. Doesn’t sound like it was ruled on from a legal point of view, but on a technical point of view.”
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