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New York’s Board of Elections removes Lee Zeldin from Independence Party ballot line over invalid signatures

Brittainy Newman/Pool via Associated Press
Lee Zeldin appears during New York’s Republican gubernatorial debate, at the studios of Spectrum News NY, June 20, 2022, in New York.

The New York State Board of Elections has tossed out thousands of signatures that Rep. Lee Zeldin’s (R) gubernatorial campaign filed to get him included on an Independent Party ballot line in the general election.

Out of the 52,096 signatures offered by Zeldin’s campaign, 12,868 were invalidated by officials, according to the Gotham Gazette.

In order for a third party to be included on the ballot, at least 45,000 valid signatures are required. Candidates can have their names included on more than one ballot line.

Incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will have her name on the Democratic Party and Working Families Party lines, the news outlet noted. Zeldin, the GOP nominee, will have his name on the Conservative Party and Republican Party tickets. 

The state Board of Election’s decision could be overriden by a judge, according to the Times Union.

But the Libertarian Party of New York mounted a challenge to the additional ballot line attempt by Zeldin’s campaign, alleging that “over 900 sheets, containing over 11,000 signatures were merely photocopies of original sheets,” according to a press release from the party on Thursday.

“Republicans talk a lot about election integrity,” Libertarian Party Secretary Andrew Kolstee said in a statement, “but the Zeldin campaign attempted to fly under the radar and submit over 11,000 fraudulent signatures in an attempt to get a third line on the ballot, while New York’s oppressive ballot access laws, which were changed in 2020 to prevent third parties from getting on the ballot, prevent voter choice.”

“One can only determine if a petition sheet is a photocopy if the physical petition sheets are examined in person. The Zeldin campaign’s attempt to defraud the electorate and pose as an independent campaign by filing thousands of photocopied signatures is a slap in the face to New York State voters and the election process.” 

Zeldin’s campaign told The Hill in an email that it had not reviewed objections related to their petition to get him on the additional ballot line.

“All 5 statewide candidates, scores of legislative and local candidates and a massive amount of each campaigns’ volunteers collected tens of thousands of signatures from throughout New York,” the campaign said. 

“Being nearly an entirely grassroots effort, we haven’t reviewed all of the petitions nor the specific objections associated with them. In the final few days leading up to the filing deadline, tens of thousands of signatures from all over the state had to be immediately turned into the Board of Elections.”

The Hill has reached out to the New York State Board of Elections for comment. 

A Board of Elections spokesperson would not comment to the Gazette on why the signatures had been tossed but did confirm it had invalidated the campaign’s petition.

A campaign spokesperson for Zeldin’s campaign told the news outlet in an email they had not made not photocopies of the signatures.

“In the final few days leading up to the filing deadline, tens of thousands of signatures from all over the state had to be immediately turned into the Board of Elections. While the Zeldin for New York campaign is not aware of photocopies, we certainly didn’t make any photo copies.”

State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs alleged in a statement that Zeldin was acting hypocritically.

“Let’s not forget: Lee Zeldin was one of the many far-right Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election under the guise of election fraud — a dangerous conspiracy theory peddled by Donald Trump and his pawns in Congress,” Jacobs said in a statement. 

“Now, Zeldin submitting 11,000 fake signatures just emphasizes his hypocrisy and proves he is willing to sell New Yorkers another ‘Big Lie’ to benefit his failing campaign.”

Updated at 7:24 p.m.

Tags Kathy Hochul Lee Zeldin

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