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Lawsuit underway in Onondaga County over Working Families Party line

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)

Eight Onondaga County Republicans are suing to keep their Democratic challengers off of a second party line on this year’s election ballot.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Dave Knapp, Legislator Jim Rowley, Legislator Deb Cody, Legislator Cody Kelly, Legislator John McBride, Mark Olson, Joe Carni, and Colleen Gunnip.

The lawsuit alleges that the Working Families Party failed to properly authenticate its nominating petitions for candidates, submitting signatures that were electronically reproduced instead of the original signatures.

Bridget Kenney, Communications Director for Flip the Leg, a group that promotes Democratic candidates in Onondaga County, said when she found out about the suit, she was confused and angry.

“It’s easier for them to spend all this money instead of going out and talking to the voters,” said Kenney. “They just want to drag this in court and hope that no one cares enough.”

The candidates behind the suit are asking the court to keep their opponents off of the Working Families Party line in the primary and general elections.

The Working Families Party argues the signatures are valid, saying Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing electronic documents to be submitted during the pandemic.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in other counties across the state.

Kenney said she sees the lawsuits as voter suppression.

“The voters should have the decision that, OK, this person is on the line for Working Families party,” said Kenney. “They believe in what the Working Families Party is supporting, and that’s what my values are.”

Chairwoman of the Onondaga County Republican Committee Benedicte Doran issued a statement saying, “Every registered voter is eligible to vote regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, so it’s misinformation that voters are not able to vote. The Democrat candidates violated election law by filing documents with cut and pasted signatures of candidates and party leaders instead of original signatures as is required by law. It is a dangerous path to go down to allow photocopies of documents and signatures in official proceedings. There are election laws for a reason and both sides need to follow them. They did not, so there are consequences for it.”

The case is due back in court April 23.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.