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NYS court overturns decision to include Byron Brown on ballot for Mayor of Buffalo

City Hall
Posted at 5:11 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 22:20:43-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Following an appeal, the Supreme Court of the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department has overturned a previous decision to include Byron Brown on the November ballot for Mayor of Buffalo.

A lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court on August 30 on behalf of the Brown campaign, arguing the legislature’s change in primary day and day of the deadline to file a petition to appear on the November ballot was unconstitutional and did not give voters enough time to decide.

The court ruled Brown's name appear on the ballot in November as an independent candidate.The decision was appealed and the Supreme Court of the Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department heard the appeal and issued a stay pending further arguments on September 8.

The further arguments were heard by the Fourth Department Thursday and the previous decision was overturned, denying that Brown's name appear on the November ballot for Mayor of Buffalo.

You can read the decision from the court documents below:

Appellant having moved, upon the return of an order to show cause granted by the Honorable Nancy E. Smith on September 8, 2021, for a stay of all proceedings to enforce a judgment (denominated order) of the Supreme Court, Erie County, entered September 7, 2021, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal taken herein, Now, upon reading and filing the papers with respect to the motion, and due deliberation having been had thereon, It is hereby ORDERED that the motion is dismissed as moot.
The Election Commissioners’ Association of the State of New York having moved, upon the return of an order to show cause granted by the Honorable Nancy E. Smith on September 13, 2021, for permission to appear as amicus curiae on the appeal taken herein from a judgment (denominated order) of the Supreme Court, Erie County, entered September 7, 2021, Now, upon reading and filing the papers with respect to the motion, and due deliberation having been had thereon, It is hereby ORDERED that the motion is denied.

India Walton, the Democratic nominee for Mayor of Buffalo issued the following statement Thursday:

We are very glad the Fourth Department has upheld the rule of law. Buffalo voters deserve clear, transparent election laws. This decision is an acknowledgement of the duly elected New York State legislature’s right to set our political calendar. If everyday Buffalonians are late on rent, parking fees, or school assignments, they face consequences. There is no reason the rules should not apply to my GOP-backed opponent as well.
- India Walton

The Brown campaign issued this statement Thursday evening:

"We are disappointed by the decisions in federal and state court today. We believe that the initial rulings were correct and properly granted ballot access for the Mayoral election in the City of Buffalo,” said Conor Hurley, Campaign Manager of Brown for Buffalo. “Despite our disappointment, we respect the Court’s decisions and will not disparage or denigrate anyone involved in them, as our opponent and her supporters have done over the last two weeks. Our campaign remains focused on what has sustained us all along, which is ensuring that Buffalo’s progress continues, and that no matter what method people vote by, that they will have the ability to cast their vote for a qualified and experienced candidate. In November, Mayor Byron Brown will prevail. Write Down Byron Brown.”

There was also a lawsuit filed in Federal Court 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.”

In that case the court also ruled Brown's name appear on the ballot in November as an independent candidate. That decision was also appealed and was scheduled to be in front of a three-judge panel Friday, but was heard Thursday. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit also overturned a previous decision to include Brown on the ballot.

The incumbent Brown will not appear on the ballot, but may still run a write-in campaign. He announced a write-in campaign in June after losing the Democratic primary.

A commissioner for the Erie County Board of Elections tells 7 Eyewitness News Brown may still pursue his legal options in court but the board will hold a commissioner's meeting Friday "for the purpose of amending the 2021 general election ballot certification," and ballots will be sent out without Brown's name on them.

The board of elections voted not to certify the General Election Ballot on September 9 citing many moving parts in the courts regarding whether Brown’s name would be on the ballot.