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June 08, 2021

Candidate for election to public office held to have participated in acts warranting the invalidation of his designating petition

In a proceeding brought pursuant to Article 16 of New York State's Election Law, Supreme Court granted the Plaintiff's petition and invalidated the designating petition of an individual [Respondent] seeking election to public office. Respondent appealed but the Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's order.

Addressing the merits of Respondent's appeal, the Appellate Division held that Supreme Court properly invalidated Respondent's designating petition on the basis of fraud.

The Appellate Division explained that "As a general rule, a candidate's designating petition will be invalidated on the ground of fraud only if there is a showing that the entire designating petition is permeated with that fraud. However, said the court, even if the designating petition is not permeated with fraud, if the candidate has participated in or is chargeable with knowledge of the fraud, the designating petition will generally be invalidated.

Here, opined the Appellate Division, Plaintiff established "by clear and convincing evidence" that Respondent, as a subscribing witness:

[1] attested that he had witnessed certain signatures on the designating petition even though third parties had signed the petition on behalf of the person named as the signatory on the designating petition; and 

[2] had attested to one signature although he was not "in the presence of the signator[y] when [she] signed the [designating] petition."

Although the Appellate Division stated it did not "ascribe any nefarious motive to [Respondent's] conduct, his actions still constituted a fraud."

Accordingly, it held that Supreme Court "properly determined that [Respondent's] participation in those acts warranted invalidation of the designating petition."

Click HERE to access the Appellate Division's decision. 

 

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