New York City’s political machines are still churning in the time of coronavirus.
Over three days of remote hearings, the Board of Elections saw challenge after challenge from party-linked filers looking to boot candidates off ballots.
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Brooklyn City Council hopefuls Sandy Nurse, Misba Abdin and Kim Council were all kicked off the June 23 Democratic ballot. Their objectors were listed under the address for the campaign office of Darma Diaz, the Kings County Democratic Party’s pick for the vacancy.
“To fight challenges to the signatures, we would have to go knock on people’s doors, get people to sign affidavits, bring it back," Nurse said. "They knew the risks that they were asking candidates to take.”
Nurse, Abdin and Council didn’t have the minimum number of petition signatures required to get on the ballot. But here’s where it gets murky: the minimum set by the City Charter is half that set by state law. When Governor Cuomo slashed the requirement by two-thirds amid COVID concerns, the city Board of Elections adopted the higher state threshold.
Some sitting elected officials are condemning political gamesmanship.
“It is unconscionable for the machine to step in now in the midst of a pandemic and try to elect someone to public office in this way," said City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Diaz is now the lone candidate on the Democratic ballot for the seat. She had agreed to talk with NY1, but when it came time for the interview, a spokesman called to say she wouldn’t be available.
The Bronx Democratic Party also is carrying on politics as usual.
“There is a requirement to have an appropriate description of the office and the appropriate geographic area covered. These respective petitions do neither," said party attorney Stanley Schlein.
Schlein, among other victories, got two state Assembly challengers tossed for too-few petition signatures.
Ballot challenges have also been filed in court during this public health crisis.
Manhattan Assembly Member Dan Quart in late March sued challenger Cameron Koffman over residency rules. Koffman had been away at college.
“Simply put, Mr. Koffman has not complied with the law and is not eligible to run," Quart said.
Koffman said he’s a lifelong New Yorker and, like others, said this isn’t the time for power grabs.
“I think, though, that by pursuing this lawsuit, trying to use the courts and the cover of coronavirus, that’s kind of the same-old corrupt Albany," he said.