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GOP sues to keep Democrats off Working Families line

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Republican Party operatives in Monroe County have sued to prevent 37 Democratic candidates for various offices from appearing on a second ballot line under the Working Families Party in the upcoming primary and general elections.

The lawsuit mirrors cases filed recently in other counties, including Niagara and Onondaga, that allege the Working Families Party failed to properly authenticate its nominating petitions for the candidates it is seeking to officially endorse.

All of the candidates in question have also been endorsed by the county Democratic Party and are running for a variety of offices, including those in the County Legislature, and on suburban town boards in Greece, Henrietta, Perinton, Pittsford, and Webster that were once Republican strongholds but have leaned liberal in recent years.

The lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court on Thursday.

Reached by text message, Monroe County Republican Chairperson Bernie Iacovangelo said that the legal action was not coordinated with other counties and that its aim was to ensure that all political parties are held to the same standard under state Election Law.

The plaintiffs argue that the Working Families Party broke the law when it electronically cut and pasted signatures intended to validate nominating petitions for specific candidates. State law, they argue, requires that signatures on such documents be original, or what is known as “wet.”



“Said signatures have been copied from some other document,” the lawsuit read. “They are not bona fide, genuine, ‘wet’ signatures placed upon the certificate of authorization that is the subject of this matter.”

If the court were to find that the signatures violated the law, the endorsements could be voided and the candidates kicked off the Working Families Party line.

Working Families Party officials maintain that the documents they sent to local boards of election were permissible under a governor’s executive order that allowed documents to be sent electronically during the pandemic.

Under New York’s fusion voting laws, candidates can run on more than one party line. Votes on minor party lines can sometimes mean the difference between victory and defeat for candidates in close races.

Zach King, the chairperson of the Monroe County Democratic Committee, said he thought the lawsuit lacked merit.

"It's just another example of Republicans showing the only way they can win is to keep people from voting," King said.

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at dandreatta@rochester-citynews.com.

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