New York Libertarians sue for ballot access, accuse state of failure to count votes

From New York LP chair Mark Axinn via LP blog:

Libertarian Party Candidate Files Lawsuit against NYS Board of Elections for Failure to Count Votes

Warren Redlich, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for Governor of New York in the 2010 election, today filed a lawsuit in Albany County Supreme Court against the New York State Board of Elections, directing the state agency to cease ignoring votes cast for the Libertarian Party.

This legal action affects all third party candidates running for office in New York, as it charges the Board of Elections with discrimination against independent candidates and voters in the manipulation of third party vote count returns.

Redlich asserts that the Board of Elections’ method of counting votes in New York ignores votes made for third party candidates by forcing multiple third party candidates onto the same ballot line, confusing the voters’ choice of candidate and illegally invalidating votes cast for the Libertarian Party.

Additionally Redlich asserts the Board of Elections violate the law by its practice of ignoring proxy votes cast by absentee voters, thus illegally rejecting votes made for the Libertarian Party by absentee voters.

Although not claiming enough votes to have won the gubernatorial election, Redlich’s lawsuit asserts that the Libertarian Party of New York obtained 50,000 votes, qualifying it for Party status under New York State law. Without justification, the Board of Election violated federal and state law by rejecting votes made for the Libertarian Party by the voters of New York once a major party candidate had been certified as winning the election.

New York Libertarian Party Chair Mark Axinn stated, “Only by requiring the Board of Elections to count every vote cast for every candidate can independent voters have their voice heard on Election Day.”

The case is scheduled to be heard on April 8.

And at Ballot Access News:

On March 9, Warren Redlich and Mark Axinn filed a lawsuit in state court against the New York State Board of Elections, over the ballot format in November 2010 and many previous elections. The lawsuit points out that section 7-104(3)(c), which describes the general election ballot format, says each party is to have its own column or row. However, in 2010, the Libertarian Party was squeezed into the same column or row as another political party.

The lawsuit, called Redlich v New York State Board of Canvassers, also explains that 7-104(3)(c) has not been followed in the past because the mechanical voting machines didn’t have enough space to give each party its own column or row. But, the lawsuit then explains, New York no longer uses mechanical voting machines, and therefore the ballot format used in November 2010 was illegal and the illegality had no justification. New York used paper ballots in November 2010.

The lawsuit asks that in future elections, 7-104(3)(c) be followed. Also, it asks that the court recognize that the New York Libertarian Party probably would have received 50,000 votes if the ballot had not been so confusing. To buttress that conclusion, the lawsuit also points out that the official election returns failed to record how many void votes were cast in New York city. The official election returns show 3,001 void votes for Governor outside New York city, but zero void votes within New York city. It is very likely that many voters voted both for Redlich and another gubernatorial candidate who was on the ballot in the same column, and these votes should have been recorded as void. Without an accurate record of the number of void votes, it is difficult to analyze what effect the ballot format had. The party received 48,386 votes for Governor, according to the official returns. It needed 50,000 to become a qualified party.

12 thoughts on “New York Libertarians sue for ballot access, accuse state of failure to count votes

  1. George Whitfield

    Kudos to Warren Redlich and Mark Axinn for pursuing this. I wish them success.

  2. paulie Post author

    It’s in the article – next to last sentence “The party received 48,386 votes for Governor, according to the official returns.”

  3. Eric Sundwall

    Special thanks to Gary Donoyan for the real legal legwork on this. There were also about a dozen people who contributed real money to pursue this.

    There were numerous areas where fraud, new systems and no due diligence on the part of the BOE make this suit realistic.

    If it works before May 24th, we might be able to field a candidate in CD26. Not sure how that would go though.

  4. Robert Capozzi

    es, CD26? Chris Lee’s former seat? The Craigs List Troller?

    That might be interesting! Any strong candidate-types living there?

  5. paulie Post author

    Any strong candidate-types living there?

    Thy don’t necessarily have to live there, they can actually live anywhere in the state, although it’s nice if we can find someone who does live there. I think Ostrowski is up that way, not sure if he is in that district specifically, or whether he would run LP.

  6. Mark Axinn

    Thanks, all of you, for your kind comments.

    A few points:

    1. We were only 1614 votes shy of the 50,000 needed for party status, which would be good for four years. Considering that a challenge-proof petition effort costs $40,000 every two years, ballot status would be a real benefit to us for 2012 and 2014.

    2. While my good friend Jim Ostrowski lives in Buffalo, he is not interested in running as a Libertarian candidate at this time. However others are (who live in the 26th CD which basically is the suburbs from Buf. to Rochester) and depending on financing, may do so.

    3. Eric raises two important points: Many people contributed financially to the lawsuit and the lead oar in drafting was very ably taken by Gary Donoyan with some minor input from Warren and me. If you wish to contribute, please send a check to LPNY, POB 728, Bellport, NY 11713.

    Thanks so much!

  7. Porn Again Christian

    Good luck on the lawsuit.

    If you win, you should deliver a copy to Roger Stone by courier and videotape him receiving it.

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