Court Ruling Could Reinstate WFP Candidates on Ballot

From left are Tiffany Caban, Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander.

The fate of Working Families Party (WFP) candidates knocked off the June ballot in New York City is still up in the air after a ruling made by an upstate judge on Friday. 

Onondaga County Supreme Court Judge Scott J. Delconte ruled in favor of WFP last week after Republicans in 15 counties upstate and in Long Island sued to get their candidates kicked off the ballot for a technicality. 

The Republicans objected to the WFP use of a remote notary and electronic signatures on a required form, called a Wilson-Pakula, that gives candidates who aren’t members of the party permission to run on the party line. They argued that the forms were invalid, or even fraudulent because they did not have “wet” or original signatures.

Delconte dismissed the Republican claims and ruled that WFP did not violate election law by using remote notaries and electronic signatures. That decision could affect the fate of the WFP candidates in New York City who were kicked off the June primary ballots for the same technicality. 

Last month, the New York City Board of Elections disqualified nearly every single candidate put forward by WFP because they said the party did not use original signatures on their Wilson-Pakulas.  Among these were WFP star candidates Brad Lander for Comptroller, Jumaane Williams for re-election as Public Advocate and Tiffany Cabán. 

Sharon Cromwell, Deputy State Director of the New York Working Families Party, said that she hopes the BOE takes the judge’s ruling into consideration and reverses their decision. Currently, she said, they are in opposition to the law and to the ruling. 

“That should be accepted by boards of elections,” Cromwell said about the Supreme Court ruling. “They decided to dismiss the Wilson-Pakula before the lawsuit was decided.”

The technicality resulted from different interpretations of an executive order issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo at the start of the pandemic in March last year. The order allows for documents to be notarized remotely by notary publics and for documents allowed under the Electronic Signatures and Records Act to be signed with electronic signatures. 

As of last Friday, the NYS Supreme Court Justice Delconte ruled in favor of the WFP in 15 counties that the party complied with election law. So right now, it’s just the NYC BOE where candidates have been thrown off the line.

In response to the decision, Cromwell said, “The New York State Supreme Court confirmed what we knew all along: that the GOP’s case had no basis in law or fact. This whole process is a shameless attempt to suppress the voice of voters and interfere with the democratic process. Republicans know that they can’t win on the issues, so their only hope is to try and manipulate elections. We’re grateful to our members, volunteers, and candidates for standing with us, and look forward to getting our Working Families candidates elected.”

The judge ruled on the merits of the WFP’s case in 9 counties. Lawsuits in 6 counties (Dutchess, Monroe, Rockland, Saratoga, Suffolk, and Ulster,) were thrown out on technical issues, but the judge indicated he would have found in favor of the WFP and its candidates had he reached the merits in those as well.

Editor’s Note: Story updated with Cromwell’s quotes and court decision on Thursday, May 6.

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