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Conservative Party of New York State and Working Families Party v. New York State Board of Elections

The Conservative Party and the Working Families party—represented by the Brennan Center for Justice and the law firm of Emery Celli Brinkerhoff & Abady—filed a lawsuit challenging a discriminatory New York State policy for counting political party votes under a procedure known as “double voting.”

Published: September 15, 2010

 

The Work­ing Famil­ies Party and the Conser­vat­ive Party— repres­en­ted by the Bren­nan Center for Justice and the law firm of Emery Celli Brinck­er­hoff & Abady—have sued the New York State Board of Elec­tions over a discrim­in­at­ory New York State policy for count­ing polit­ical party votes under a proced­ure known as “double voting.”

Double voting results when a voter checks more than one box for the same candid­ate running on more than one party line. Under the state’s policy, the major party gets the full vote and the minor party gets no credit.

New York’s “fusion” voting system allows for the same candid­ate to run on both a major party as well as a minor party line. This allows voters to vote for a major party candid­ate while support­ing a minor party. With the lever machines used in New York until this year, voters could not vote for the same candid­ate on both major and minor party lines.  With the new system, voters can “double-vote” in this way, without any warn­ing that their vote will only count for the major party and without any oppor­tun­ity to correct their ballot.

The issue is of partic­u­lar import­ance to minor parties in New York, given that the results of the gubernat­orial elec­tion are used to determ­ine a party’s place­ment on the ballot for the next four years. Only parties who receive at least 50,000 votes are entitled to a guar­an­teed place on the ballot, and the order of their appear­ance is based on the number of votes that they previ­ously received.

The policy unfairly penal­izes both the voters and the minor parties they support. The State should take inmme­di­ate action to correct this prob­lem. To read the press release, click here.

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Selec­ted Legal Docu­ments

Complaint (9/14/2010)

Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/01/10)

Memor­andum of Law in Support of Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/01/10)

City Organ­iz­a­tions of the New York Inde­pend­ence Party Amici Curiae Brief (10/01/10)

Declar­a­tion of Eric Hecker in Support of Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/01/10)

Declar­a­tion of Dan Cantor in Support of Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/01/10)

Declar­a­tion of Mike Long in Support of Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/01/10)

Declar­a­tion of Dan Wallach in Support of Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/01/10)

Memor­andum of Law in Oppos­i­tion to Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/08/10)

Affi­davit of Robert A. Brehm in Oppos­i­tion to Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/08/10)

Affi­davit of Todd D. Valentine in Oppos­i­tion to Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/08/10)

Affi­davit of Robert Warren in Oppos­i­tion to Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/08/10)

Declar­a­tion of Kenneth Carbul­lido Oppos­i­tion to Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/08/10)

Declar­a­tion of John Poulos in Oppos­i­tion to Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/08/10)

Reply Memor­andum of Law in Support of Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/14/10)

Declar­a­tion of Dan Cantor in Further Support of Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/14/10)

Order Deny­ing Motion for Prelim­in­ary Injunc­tion (10/18/10)

Motion to Dismiss (11/09/10)

Memor­andum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss (11/09/10)

Memor­andum of Law in Oppos­i­tion to Motion to Dismiss (11/22/10)

First Amended Complaint (12/20/2010)

Defend­ants’ Reply Memor­andum of Law 12/01/10

Notice of Motion to Dismiss (1/10/11)

Defend­ants’ Memor­andum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss (1/10/11)

        Affi­davit of Robert A. Brehm in Support of Motion to Dismiss (1/10/11)

Memor­andum of Law in Oppos­i­tion to Motion to Dismiss (01/18/2011)

Second Amended Complaint (02/03/2011)

Defend­ants’ Answer to Second Amended Complaint (02/18/2011)

Supple­mental Memor­andum of Law in Oppos­i­tion to Motion to Dismiss (02/03/2011)

Defend­ants’ Supple­mental Memor­andum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss (2/7/2011)

Order Deny­ing Motion to Dismiss (02/10/2011)

Opin­ion on Motion to Dismiss (05/09/2011)

Consent Decree (9/8/11)

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Press

State Heeds Minor Parties on Voting-Machine Complaint (New York Times 9/8/2011)

Hear­ing Set in New York Case Over How to Tally Votes for Two Parties Who are Running the Same Nominee (Ballot Access News 12/02/2010)

Work­ing Famil­ies and Conser­vat­ive parties agree: New ballot favors the polit­ical estab­lish­ment Op-Ed by Dan Cantor and Mike Long (NY Daily News 10/29/2010)

Minor Parties See Threat in Ballot Quirk (New York Times 10/25/2010)

WFP & Conser­vat­ive Party Seek Injunc­tion Against NYS Board of Elec­tions Discrim­in­at­ory Prac­tice (Bren­nan Center Press Release 10/01/2010)

Work­ing Famil­ies Party and Conser­vat­ive Party…United? (NY Daily News 9/16/2010)

Perpetu­at­ing Power (TimesUnion.com 9/15/2010)

Before Vote, City Offi­cials Fret­ted About New System (New York Times 9/15/2010)