Niagara County Democrat and Working Families Party members joined for a press briefing Saturday morning, striking at a lawsuit by Republicans to remove 26 candidates from the Working Families Party line in the June elections. The lawsuit was filed over electronic signatures on official documents provided by employees and volunteers of the Working Families Party.
Members of both these parties cited an Executive Order by Andrew Cuomo in March of 2020 allowing for certain avenues to notarize documents electronically due to COVID-19. That order has yet to be removed: No. 202.7: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency (ny.gov).
Chairman of the Niagara County Democratic Committee, John Jacoby, said the lawsuit threatens the area’s sense of democracy and stands with the Working Families Party against the pending litigation. “Somewhere in the hierarchy of the Republican Party, some clever, invisible people said: how can we exploit this situation? And they believe they have found something, an electronic signature.” He added, “They’re not arguing that any of the petitions are faulty in any way, but because they reflected following rules designed to keep everyone safe.”
Lastly, Jacoby asserted on the issue, “Millions of dollars are exchanged everyday using electronic signatures. There is nothing illegal nor unusual about their use. Now we will have to wait to hear what the courts will have to say. I remember when elections were decided by the voters.”
Western New York Chair of the Working Families Party, Louisa Pacheco, said her party cares about working people, teachers, children and unions. She believes this lawsuit wastes time that candidates could be out speaking with and understanding Working Families Party voters. “We are in alliance with our Democratic partners here, who went through a very rigorous process to be Democratic Candidates.” Pacheco added, “This is a farce. This lawsuit is just simply to prevent people from expressing themselves through the legal process, that was put forth in law this year to prevent people from getting a deadly virus.”
Niagara County Chair of the WNY Working Families Party, Tom Roulley, called the legal action an attempt at voter suppression. “We don’t need less people voting, we need more people voting.” He said the reason for the Working Families Party being targeted is their voters will often support Democratic candidates placed on their party line come election time. He added, “It’s unfair to the people that spent the time away from their families, interviewing the candidates, and the candidates themselves.”
Niagara County’s 13th Legislative District Representative, Anita Mullane, said that the time spent on these lawsuits would have been better used on infrastructure or helping businesses recover from the pandemic. “Here we are wasting time and money because they decided to file this ridiculous lawsuit.” She added, “The Working Families Party stands for working people, organized labor and progress on all levels. It is a third-party option for voters. That is important. Their endorsement is important. This is about principle.”
A second lawsuit was filed in addition to the first, challenging the right of Working Families Party voters to cast an absentee ballot due to the pandemic.
Candidate for Mayor of North Tonawanda and current Alderman-at-Large, Austin Tylec, addressed the second lawsuit filed by Niagara County’s Republican Party. “They’re trying to go after absentee voters. In regard to risk of illness, and that has to do with the pandemic.” Tylec added that his own aunt, 100-years-old, has barely left her home in a year due to COVID-19. “And it’s people like her, and so many others in New York State, that have worries and want to be able to vote.”
FEATURE PHOTO: Niagara County’s 13th Legislative Representative Anita Mullane holds her copy of a lawsuit filed by the County’s GOP.