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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Activist files 2nd suit challenging Assembly maps | Greene County

NEW BALTIMORE — Activist and attorney Gary Greenberg has filed a second lawsuit seeking to invalidate state Assembly maps drawn by the State Legislature.

After Greenberg’s initial lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Steuben County was dismissed, Greenberg filed a lawsuit on May 15 in State Supreme Court in Manhattan alongside fellow petitioners Paul Nichols and Gavin Wax seeking to throw out the Assembly lines and move the primary date from June 28 to align with the state Senate and congressional primaries Aug. 23.

A hearing will be held in the case Monday at 10 a.m.

On May 10, State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister in Steuben County dismissed Greenberg’s first suit that aimed to discard the Assembly maps.

“The first suit, the judge there denied it, he said it wasn’t timely,” Greenberg said Thursday. “He agreed with us that the Assembly lines weren’t constitutional, but in order to intervene he said that we weren’t timely and that we should file our own separate lawsuit and pursue it that way. So that’s what we did.”

The State Court of Appeals previously ruled that congressional and state Senate maps drawn by the Democratic-controlled Legislature were unconstitutional and special master Jonathan Cervas was assigned to draw new maps.

In the April 27 ruling, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote in a footnote that the court could not throw out the state Assembly maps, despite their “procedural infirmity,” as the original case did not challenge the state Assembly maps.

The lawsuit notes that Greenberg is a potential candidate for Congress, state Senate and Assembly.

“I would possibly run,” Greenberg said Thursday. “I’m considering running in the future.”

Greenberg is a former Democratic Senate candidate and ran for the Assembly in 2020 as a write-in.

On May 18, the League of Women Voters of New York filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York petitioning the court to postpone the June 28 gubernatorial and assembly elections until Aug. 23.

“The state Board of Elections, apparently with the support of leaders of both major political parties, put in place a deliberately exclusionary electoral regime for statewide offices designed to limit further competition in the primary and from independent candidates in the general election,” Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director of the League said. “Our suit requests the court to order the postponement of the statewide primary from June 28 to August 23 — the same date as state Senate and Congressional primaries — and extend the deadline for gathering signatures for both the party primaries and independent candidates seeking to qualify for the general election.”

Greenberg said he believes the federal lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters is complementary to his state lawsuit.

“I strongly agree with them and I thank them for taking a stand and stepping up,” he said.

Greenberg said that if the state goes forward with primaries in both June and August that turnout will be depressed for both due to voter fatigue and confusion about the split primaries.

“People are not going to come out twice in the summer and vote,” Greenberg said.

The lawsuit brought by Greenberg, Nichols and Wax also requests that, “The petition periods for party candidates to obtain signatures for access to the primary ballot should be reopened with sufficient time for current and potential candidates to gather the requisite designating petition signatures.”

Greenberg contends the petition process must start from scratch after the congressional and state Senate lines were discarded.

“The Legislature created this fiasco and they shouldn’t be rewarded, incumbents particularly, by accepting the old petitions,” he said Thursday. “They can’t just say because the petitions were already done that they can hand the petitions in and we’ll give them until the end of May to decide if they want to run in the new district. No, it’s not up to the board of elections, it’s up to the people to decide. Send the candidates back out into the legal districts and have the people sign the petitions to see if they want that person to run in their district.”

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