Lawsuit Challenges Candidate Petitions

By Kelly McCarthy

August 7, 2012 Updated Aug 7, 2012 at 8:14 PM EDT

Town of Union, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Time is running out before the November general elections. Will the Town of Union have candidates from both the democratic and republican parties on the ballot?

Republicans in the Town of Union continue to challenge the Democratic candidate's petitions.

Now, they have appealed the signatures to the New York State Supreme Court.

If the signatures in question are invalid, the two candidates will not be on the democratic ticket.

"I think when you submit anywhere near the minimum number of signatures, it usually requires a cursory look and once you look at them, if you see that there are blatant mistakes where petitions are not signed and the wrong numbers stated, things that are clearly outside the law, then you start to take a closer look," said Frank Bertoni, (R) Town of Union Council.

Democratic candidates Bill Tastle and Frank Palmisano from the Town of Union submitted the petition with 551 signatures.

They need at least 500 to run for town council.

The appeal will put them just under.

"You don't want bad petitions. No one is saying that. But the point is to try to chip it to get to 499 to deny the people an election, really is very difficult to accept," said Jim Testani, Broome County Chairman of the Democratic Committee.

"You need 500 and I can't stress enough that we're bound by the same laws..why should they get special treatment? We got more than 500 signatures they should do the same," said Tom Augostini, (R) Town of Union Council.

The democrats say they do not want a one party ballot.

They think the discussion should be left to the voters.

"If there's something really big, something that isn't real or true or something, that's very very different. But to pursue somebody who doesn't have their middle initial... the types of technicalities that used to get these thrown out years and years ago, the courts have repeatedly said no," said Testani.

"At the time when we should have an open discussion of the issues and the windows should be open and fresh airs in, they decided not only shut the windows, but close the blinds, and lock the doors. This is an outrage, it's the taxpayers and voters in the Town of Union."

Errors on the petitions include wrong party affiliation, duplicate signatures, and even incorrect witness statements.

"I think it's up to a judge to decide as to what those errors, how much they count, and whether the judge wants them thrown off the ballot," said Bertoni.

A decision is expected from the Supreme Court before the November election.