Justia Election Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
Hoehmann v. Town of Clarkstown
The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the appellate division concluding that the underlying challenge to Local Law No. 9-2014 was not time barred by either a four-month or a six-year statute of limitations, holding that there was no error.Local Law No. 9-2014 was adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Clarkstown in 2014 and purportedly set an eight-year term limit for all Clarkstown elected officials and required a supermajority vote of the Town Board to repeal. Appellees brought this action seeking a determination that the law was invalid because it was not subjected to a referendum of the Town's voters. Appellants filed a motion to dismiss based on statute of limitations grounds. The appellate division declined to dismiss the actions. The Court of Appeals affirmed in each case, holding that, under the circumstances, the actions were not time barred. View "Hoehmann v. Town of Clarkstown" on Justia Law
Harkenrider v. Hochul
The Court of Appeals declared void the legislature's congressional and state senate maps, holding that judicial oversight is required to facilitate the expeditious creation of constitutionally-conforming maps for use in the 2022 election and to safeguard New Yorkers' constitutionally-protected right to a fair election.In 2022, the first redistricting cycle to follow the adoption of 2014 amendments, a stalemate within the Independent Redistricting Commission resulted in a breakdown in the process for submission of electoral maps to the legislature. The legislature responded by creating and enacting maps that failed to follow the 2014 constitutional reforms. Petitioners brought this action alleging that the process by which the 2022 maps were enacted was constitutionally defective. Supreme Court agreed and declared the maps void under the State Constitution. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding (1) the legislature's failure to follow the prescribed constitutional procedure required invalidation of the congressional and state senate maps; and (2) there was record support for the determination that the district lines for congressional races were drawn with an unconstitutional partisan intent. View "Harkenrider v. Hochul" on Justia Law
Ferreyra v. Arroyo
The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division determining that the designating petition submitted by Respondent should not be invalidated because it was permeated by fraud, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the designating petition should be declared invalid as a matter of law.The undisputed facts of this case established that 512 out of 944 signatures submitted in the designating petition were backdated to dates preceding the candidates receipt of the blank petition pages and that fourteen of the twenty-eight subscribing witnesses swore that those signatures were placed on the designating petition before the blank petition pages were obtained from the printer. The referee, Supreme Court and Appellate Division were not persuaded that Respondent either participated in the fraud or that the irregularities rose to a sufficient level to infect the remainder of the designating petition. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the lower courts should have concluded that this was one of those rare instances in which the designating petition is so permeated by fraud as a whole as to call for its invalidation. View "Ferreyra v. Arroyo" on Justia Law
Seawright v. Board of Elections in City of New York
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division in Matter of Seawright v. Board of Elections in the City of New York and affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division in Matter of Hawatmeh v. New York State Board of Election, holding that, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the complete failure to file by the applicable deadline either a cover sheet with a designating petition or a certificate of acceptance constitutes a "fatal defect" under N.Y. Elec. Law 1-106(2).In Seawright, the Appellate Division, First Department, held that the candidate's belated filing of a cover sheet and certificate of acceptance did not constitute a fatal defect. In Hawatmeh, the Appellate Division, Third Department held that, notwithstanding the "unprecedented circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic," the candidate's belated filing of a certificate of acceptance was a fatal defect. The Court of Appeals revised in Seawright and affirmed in Hawatmeh, holding that New York courts remain constrained by the express directive of the Election Law and that the First Department's analysis in Seawright directly conflicts with that well-established statutory mandate. View "Seawright v. Board of Elections in City of New York" on Justia Law
Kosmider v. Whitney
The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the judgment of Supreme Court directing disclosure of electronic copies of ballots stored by Essex County voting machines in the November 2015 general election, holding that N.Y. Elec. Law 3-222 protects disclosure of ballot copies during the relevant time frame.In December 2015, Petitioner requested the electronic ballot copies preserved by the Essex County Board of Elections (County Board). The County Attorney determined that section 3-222(2), which prohibits examination of "voted ballots" absent a court order or legislative committee direction during the first two years following an election, barred examination of the "voted ballots." In ordering immediate release of the ballot images Supreme Court concluded that section 3-222 did not protect the copies from disclosure and that the two-year limitation on examination of voted ballots outlined in section 3-222(2) did not encompass electronic ballot copies. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that section 3-222(2) prevented the County Board from granting Petitioner's request for disclosure of electronic copies of those ballots. View "Kosmider v. Whitney" on Justia Law
Glickman v. Laffin
Steven Glickman, a candidate for the office of New York State Senator, filed a petition seeking an order validating designating petitions naming him as a candidate in the September 13, 2016 Primary Election. Three objectors filed a petition seeking an order invalidating the designating petitions. Supreme Court invalidated the petitions, concluding that Glickman did not meet New York’s five-year constitutional residency requirement as a matter of law. The Appellate Division reversed and validated the petitions. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Glickman could not claim New York residency for the past five years as required by the New York Constitution, and therefore, Supreme Court properly invalidated the designating petitions on that basis. View "Glickman v. Laffin" on Justia Law
Hoerger v. Spota
The Suffolk County Legislature imposed term limits on county officials, including the district attorney. Respondent, who was elected district attorney in 2001, was designated as a candidate in the upcoming primary election even though he would have served more than the term limit if elected. Petitioners, registered voters and a candidate for district attorney, commenced this special proceeding seeking to invalidate the designating petitions. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the authority to enact a restriction on the number of consecutive years a person can serve as district attorney rests with the State rather than the County. The Court of Appeals affirmed the order finding the designating petitions valid, holding that the County is without the power to regulate the number of terms the district attorney may serve, and therefore, Respondent was eligible to hold the office he sought. View "Hoerger v. Spota" on Justia Law
Cohen v Cuomo
Petitioners commenced this special proceeding seeking a declaration that Chapter 16 of Laws of 2012, insofar as it expanded the size of the New York State Senate from 62 to 63 districts, was unconstitutional. Specifically, petitioners argued that the Legislature's failure to apply a consistent method of calculating the number of Senate seats due to population growth throughout the State was arbitrary and violated article III, section 4 of the New York State Constitution. The court found that petitioners have failed to satisfy their heavy burden of establishing the unconstitutionality of this legislation and therefore affirmed. View "Cohen v Cuomo" on Justia Law
Yatauro, et al. v. Mangano, et al.
Plaintiffs commenced this hybrid declaratory judgment action/article 78 proceeding, seeking a declaration that the implementation of Local Law No. 3-2011 in relation to the November 8, 2011 general election was null and void for lack of compliance with the Nassau County Charter. At issue was whether the metes and bounds descriptions in Local Law No. 3-2011 applied to the 2011 general election or whether they were the first part of a three-step process to take effect in 2013. The court held that Supreme Court properly declared that Local Law No. 3-2011 was in accord with Nassau County Charter 112, but that its implementation was null and void in connection with the November 8, 2011 general election for lack of compliance with Nassau County Charter 113 and 114. Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division, insofar as appealed from, should be reversed, without costs, and the order and judgment of Supreme Court reinstated. View "Yatauro, et al. v. Mangano, et al." on Justia Law
In the Matter of Arthur J. Walsh, et al.
Respondent, a resident of Southold, but not a resident of Fishers Island, filed with the Suffolk County Board of Elections a petition designating himself a candidate in the September 2009 primary election. Petitioners filed objections to the designated petition, alleging that it was invalid because respondent did not meet a residency requirement. At issue was the constitutionality of the residency requirement for the elected position of town justice/town board member, Fishers Island, Town of Southold, Suffolk County. The court held that the residency requirement did not violate the equal protection clause and that the residency requirement passed the rational basis test where the residency requirement imposed only reasonable, nondiscriminatory restrictions upon the right to vote; where any Southold resident who would otherwise be eligible to run for political office could run for the Fishers Island seat; where the residency requirement affected the right to vote, but only in an incidental way; and where the legislative history of the residency requirement articulated several rational bases for the residency requirement and retaining the dual town justice/town board member seat.