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Green Party Wins Temporary Restraining Order

December 19, 2002

For Immediate Release
December 19, 2002

Contact Information:
Amanda Cooper, 212 998–6736
Mark Dunlea, Green Party, 518 286–3411

Green Party Wins Temporary Restraining Order
Parties Will Maintain Current Members and Continue to Register New Members as the Case Progresses

(December 12) United States District Judge John Gleeson issued a temporary restraining order blocking the New York State Board of Elections and county boards of elections from stripping voters who enrolled in the Green Party, and two other parties facing the loss of official party status, of their party affiliation. The parties can also continue to register new voters as the case proceeds pending a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for January 16, 2003. The Greens are being represented in the lawsuit, Green Party of New York States v. New York State Board of Elections et al, by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

The temporary restraining order issued by the Court is a solid preliminary victory for the Green Party, and for democracy, says lead counsel Jeremy Creelan of the Brennan Center for Justice. The Green Party and its present and future members have demonstrated that they would suffer irreparable harm if they are stripped of the opportunity to join the party by county boards of elections, and that they are likely to succeed in showing that the challenged provision of New York law is unconstitutional.

The case continues when Judge Gleeson hears argument for a preliminary injunction on January 16.

The Greens have filed this suit to protect the right of voters to register with the Party on voter registration forms, and to prevent the state and county Boards of Elections from stripping more than 30,000 New York State citizens of their identity as Green Party members on registered voter lists. If the court had not intervened, the enrollments of these voters would have been switched to blank if the state Board of Elections decertifies the party at its meeting on Friday, December 13th. State law required the Board to decertify the Greens as a political party because its gubernatorial candidate, Stanley Aronowitz, failed to receive at least 50,000 votes.

The Greens sought a temporary restraining order to block two critical corollaries to the Greens loss of official party status, namely the purging of existing voter enrollment information from county board of elections records and the loss of the right to enroll voters as Green Party members upon registration. If the State no longer registers voters as members of the Green Party, the Party will lose a crucial tool for effective outreach and organizing, and voters will lose their opportunity to express their political views through identification with a particular party and its platform. These rights are protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

More information about the case is available. For questions or comment, please contact Amanda Cooper at 212 998–6736 or Mark Dunlea at 518 286–3411. The complaint is available for download.