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Brown campaign, voters file lawsuits to get name on November ballot

Posted at 7:31 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 17:05:39-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Nearly one week after the Erie County Board of Elections voted not to honor the petition for Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s name to appear on the November ballot under the Buffalo Party, several court actions are now in play trying once again to add Brown’s name in November.

Brown lost the Democratic Primary to India Walton in June.

The first lawsuit was filed Monday in State Supreme Court, arguing the 2019 New York State legislature’s change in primary day from September to June and petition filing day from 11-12 weeks ahead of the November election to 23-24 weeks ahead is unconstitutional, and does not give voters enough time to decide.

Brown was trying to get on the ballot as an Independent Party candidate, but filed after the new May deadline instead of filing under the old deadline.

The lawsuit claims voters subsequently did not have enough time to decide who they want as their candidate.

Monday, also filed in Federal Court is a lawsuit on behalf of three Buffalo residents who support Byron Brown for Mayor.

The lawsuit “Alleges that New York’s early deadline, as applied to the would-be candidate violates their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution”

It says the three Buffalo voters are seeking a temporary restraining order, “Prohibiting Erie County election official from enforcing that deadline, and requiring them to place the candidate’s name on the 2021 general-election ballot.”

The judge—assigned to that case is John Sinatra, Jr. Sinatra is the brother of Nick Sinatra of Sinatra Development, who the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team found has contributed to the Byron Brown for Mayor campaign several times.

We called the courts and a representative says the court chambers won’t comment on pending litigation, but according to the National Center for State Courts Judicial Ethics, this could be a case in which the judge recuses himself.

The Brown campaign says it has no comment.

The India Walton campaign says:

“The Brown campaign’s recent court filings constitute an insult to voters and the public at large on multiple fronts.

For one thing, they fly in the face of President Barack Obama’s 2009 Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which provides greater protections of the voting rights of military personnel, their families, and other overseas citizens. Guaranteeing that our service members voting from overseas have adequate time to receive, fill out, and return their ballots means rejecting bids to rush through last-minute ballot changes such as Brown’s.

For another, forcing the Erie County Board of Elections to spend money battling multiple court cases saps public funds, to no one’s benefit, except potentially Mr. Brown and his campaign. This is a reckless misuse of our public budgets, at a time when we are desperately trying to fill in the shortfalls Mr. Brown has already created.”

We also reached out to the attorney’s for those filing the claim in Federal Court and are waiting to hear back.

The Federal Court Case is expected to be heard Friday morning.