Is it really too much to expect the Schenectady County Board of Elections to follow state election law?
Or is basic competence and knowledge of the rules out of the question?
Of course, that’s assuming the board’s failure to send five candidates for office notice of the deadline to decline or accept their party’s nomination is the result of ignorance and incompetence, rather than dirty political tricks.
The county Board of Elections would have the public believe that its failure to send notice to every candidate challenging the Democratic political establishment was a simple oversight.
And perhaps it was.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to view what happened in a more sinister light.
As a result of the board’s failure to do its job, Alliance Party founder and mayoral hopeful Roger Hull will not have the party’s designation on the ballot this fall. Nor will City Council candidates Vince Riggi, Mike Cuevas, Tom Verret and Ann Rigley.
No question about it — it’s a lapse that benefits Schenectady's ruling party, by marginalizing the opposition.
It’s also a slap in the face — an insult to candidates who dutifully fulfilled their duties, only to be tripped up because the County Board of Elections fell down on the job.
To dismiss it as an oversight — remember, no such oversight befell their opponents — makes light of what really happened here: The Schenectady County Board of Elections broke the the law.
Last week Hull suggested that the board had made an “egregious error,” and also faulted himself, saying he didn’t realize that, as a member of the Alliance Party, he had to accept or decline the party’s nomination.
It’s nice to see Hull take a little bit of responsibility for this debacle, but he and his fellow Alliance Party candidates are not to blame for what happened.
The county Election Board has one job, which is to administer all aspects of elections according to state law.
While the average citizen can be forgiven for not knowing everything there is to know about state election law, the same can’t be said of local election boards.
Which is why even the smallest mistake, deliberate or not, calls into question whether Schenectady County’s election commissioners can be trusted or expected to fulfill their duties.
This silly business with the Alliance Party candidates and the letters they should have received — but didn’t — doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.