Claiming that the Westchester County Board of Elections (BOE) invalidated hundreds of signatures of registered White Plains voters in the dispute between Democratic candidates endorsed by the White Plains Democratic City Committee and those forcing a September primary, a New York City based law firm Phillips Nizer LLP, has filed an application seeking leave to intervene and force the BOE to show cause for its decision.
The petitioners Alexis Greer Heidenberg, a White Plains resident, and Mark M. Elliott, the chairman of the City of White Plains Board of Ethics, in two disputes allege that White Plains voters’ rights to free speech, due process and equal protection under the law were violated by the BOE.
The action contests the invalidation of hundreds of petition signatures for the mayoral candidacy of Milagros Lecuona and her slate for three Common Council seats, candidates Alan Goldman, Michael Kraver and Saad Siddiqui, where “WP” was used in the address section of the petition, instead of writing out the words “White Plains.”
In a deposition, Elliott a White Plains resident, registered Democratic voter, appointed official of the city as well as a member of the law firm pursuing the suit, states, “My signature on one or more such nominating petitions has been challenged. I further understand that the purported basis of said challenge is that the city indicated next to my name was abbreviated as “WP” rather than “White Plains.” I learned this information on the evening of August 9, 2017. I received no such notification from the Board of Elections, nor do I have any remedy before that body.”
The action claims that New York Election Law §6-134(5) explicitly permits address abbreviations.
The White Plains City Committee had alleged fraud in the taking and submission of the signatures and had detailed page-by-page, line-by-line Specifications of Objections, which were filed with the BOE on July 14. The line-by-line challenges, identified irregularities including wrong city, wrong county, wrong address, one-third do not live in White Plains, not members of Democratic Party, as well as using the initials “WP” or misspelled the city name.
The White Plains City Committee endorsed slate includes Mayor Tom Roach, Councilmen John Kirkpatrick and John Martin and Common Council candidate Justin Brasch.
Lecuona had filed with the court on July 25, asking for an outright dismissal of the claims, which was denied.
In a press release, Greer Heidenberg, daughter of the late and former White Plains Councilman Bob Greer, who as a Democrat was known for contesting the policies of the Democratic City Committee during his time in office commented, “My late father Bob Greer served on the White Plains Common Council for over 15 years. He would be as disappointed as the rest of our family is by these insider efforts to discourage civic participation through technicalities.”
Marc Landis, managing partner of Phillips Nizer, added in the same release, “Our government should not suppress the rights of voters to designate candidates for public office – an activity protected by the United States Constitution – on the basis of technicalities that are not supported by the law.”