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Court clears the way for Police Accountability referendum

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If a decision by a panel of state Appellate Division justices stands, the city will have its referendum on a proposed Police Accountability Board.

On Thursday,  justices overturned a ruling by state Supreme Court Justice John Ark that allowed the county Board of Elections to put the referendum on city voters' ballots, but blocked elections officials from counting the votes.

"The City Council is grateful for the speed with which the Court has issued their decision allowing for the Rochester electorate to vote on the Police Accountability Board Referendum this coming Election Day," City Council President Loretta Scott said in a statement. "Today’s unanimous decision is a victory for democracy, no one’s voice should be silenced on this important issue."

City Council approved legislation creating the Police Accountability Board in May, but because the proposed law removes some power from the mayor, state law requires a referendum. That was to be on the ballot in the November 5 election.

In early September, the Rochester Police Locust Club, the police officer's union, sued the city, Mayor Lovely Warren, City Council, and the Board of Elections, asking that the referendum be barred. And on September 25, state Supreme Court Justice John Ark granted a preliminary injunction that allowed the county Board of Elections to prepare and print ballots containing the referendum question, but it barred any votes on it from being counted.

City Council appealed that ruling to the Appellate Division.



Ballots for this year's election have already been printed with the referendum included.

This article includes reporting from CITY News Editor Jeremy Moule. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com

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