TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to
filing and posting notice of party caucus at the local board of
elections in village elections
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
To simplify the notice requirements for party nominating caucuses for
village elections while ensuring sufficient notice to village
THE CURRENT LAW
Current law requires that notice of a party caucus held for making
party nominations for village offices for village elections be made by
posting and filing such notice at the offices of the village clerk and
the board of elections and either by newspaper publication within the
village or posting the notice in six public places in the village.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section one amends paragraph c of subdivision 2 of section 15-108 of
the election law, as amended by chapter 160 of the laws of 1996, by
deleting the requirements of posting and filing notice of party
nominating caucus at the office of the board of elections.
Section two provides the effective date.
Prior to December 1, 1996, Election Law only required that notice of a
party caucus held for making party nominations for village offices for
village elections be made either by newspaper publication within the
village or by posting the notice in six public places in the village.
As a result of an alleged abuse in which potential adversaries were
unaware of the date of the caucus despite the claim by caucus Chairs
that notices were posted as required, the statutory requirements were
amended effective December 1, 1996, to impose the additional
requirements of posting and filing such notice at the offices of the
village clerk and the board of elections.
Village elections are conducted by the village clerk unless the
village adopts a resolution providing that the village election shall
be conducted by the board of elections. Chapter 160, effective
December 1, 1996, amended several sections of the Election Law
including section 6-202.3., which applies to village elections
conducted by the board of elections, and section 15-1 08.2.c., which
applies to village elections conducted by the village clerk. The goal
of these amendments was to ensure that the voting public had
sufficient notification of a nominating caucus meeting.
Unfortunately, the result of these amendments in many cases has been
to void the nomination of candidates despite ample notification to the
voting public. The requirement of posting and filing notice of the
caucus at the county board of elections serves no practical purpose in
a village election that is conducted by the village clerk. Village
residents have ample opportunity to determine the date, time, and
location of the caucus from either the local newspaper or the six
public places and importantly, from the posting and filing at the
offices of the village clerk. Village residents would not, and do not,
visit or call their county board of elections to get information about
their village election when it is conducted by the village clerk.
Chairs of village political parties are generally not experts in
election law and are frequently unaware that their caucus notice must
be posted and filed at the county board of elections for a village
election solely conducted by the village clerk. In fact, there is no
other involvement of the board of elections during the entire village
election process. In this regard, while section 6-202.5., which
applies to village elections conducted by the board of elections,
requires the filing of the certificate of nomination and list of
caucus participants with the board of elections, section 15-1 08.2.e,
which applies to village elections conducted by the village clerk,
requires the filing of said certificate and list only with the village
clerk. The board of elections is in no way involved in a village
election that is conducted by the village clerk.
The requirement that notice of a party caucus be posted and filed with
the village clerk both for elections conducted by the village and
those conducted by the board of elections makes practical sense. The
village clerk's office is easily accessible for members of the voting
public to get information about the caucus either by a convenient
visit or telephone call. For village elections conducted by the board
of elections, it makes sense for the notice of caucus to also be
posted and filed with the board of elections, and caucus chairs are
well aware of the involvement of the board of elections in all facets
of the village election.
Significantly, since the amendment took effect in December 1996,
caucus nominations have been invalidated, and candidates have been
knocked off their party's ballot, due to challenges by the opposing
political party, not members of the same party whose protection the
amendment was designed to serve. The notice requirement has become a
tool for the opposing party to void a caucus nomination for a harmless
error by the caucus chair whose own party members are not challenging
the sufficiency of the notice. The intent of the 1996 amendment was to
ensure sufficient notice to party members of their own party's caucus,
not to provide a tool for the opposing party to invalidate caucus
nominations as part of their election strategy. Unfortunately, this
has been the unintended effect. See Matter of Fitzpatrick v. Ciamarra,
27 A.D.3d 594, 811 N.Y.S.2d 767 (2d Dept. 2006); Matter of Chevere v.
Sunderland, 303 A.D.2d 428, 755 N.Y.S.2d 885 (2d Dept. 2003); Komiczky
v. Sunderland, 175 Misc.2d 912, 670 N.Y.S.2d 726 (Sup. Ct.,
Westchester County 1998).
A.2369, 2011 and 2012 referred to Elections.
A.851, 2009 and 2010 referred to Elections.
A.7443, 2007 and 2008 referred to Elections. Same as S.5232, 2007 and
2008 referred to Rules.
This act shall take effect on the first of December next succeeding
the date on which it shall become law.
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