Signature issue

Frank LaBuda’s denied third-party nominating petition sparks calls to drop his campaign

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 9/30/20

MONTICELLO, NY — Here’s what’s not disputed:

Signatures were deemed invalid by the county Board of Elections. Signers weren’t registered to vote. Sometimes no address was …

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Signature issue

Frank LaBuda’s denied third-party nominating petition sparks calls to drop his campaign

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — Here’s what’s not disputed:

Signatures were deemed invalid by the county Board of Elections. Signers weren’t registered to vote. Sometimes no address was given, sometimes the address was invalid. People listed their community instead of their town. Sometimes several lines had similar handwriting.

Several names were apparently forged, and affidavits state that the people didn’t sign the petitions. 

The petitions were for retired judge Frank LaBuda’s district attorney candidacy on a third-party line, the “For the People” party. The names were collected by supporters, LaBuda said in a statement, who “may not have followed the technical requirements for a petition.” 

The Board of Elections ruled that 882 of the 1,440 signatures collected were invalid.

Steven Vegliante, chairman of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee, said that action that was “criminality aimed at deceiving the electoral process is afoot.”  

At a press conference on Tuesday, September 22, Vegliante read from a letter he sent to the state Attorney General’s office, decrying the forgeries and listing the inaccuracies. He asked for an investigation.

Petition fraud and errors aren’t uncommon; a Pew Research Center piece on the subject noted that there was “a long list of candidates across the country who have been disqualified because some of the signatures they collected were illegitimate.”

LaBuda’s “For the People” petition was disqualified, but he is still the Republican candidate.

Vegliante accused LaBuda of taking no responsibility for the “review, edits and submission of the petition [and] the known and suspected criminal forgeries... In a time of a societal sea of change, when integrity is paramount and transparency is of the utmost importance, this conduct cannot be countenanced,” he said. 

LaBuda pushed back. In a statement, he called the press conference “entirely about their own political self-preservation after desperately trying and failing to anoint their chosen candidate for district attorney without an election by the people.” Read his full statement on page 6.

Vegliante said that it was really about preserving the electoral process, and he cited the presence of representatives from all four parties at the press conference. 

“Each of us appreciates the presence with us today of Sullivan County Republican Party chairman Gary Maas, who... believes as we do that forgeries and fraud in the electoral process is an affront to the democracy we value and believe in,” Vegliante said. 

Len Bernardo, Independence Party state committeeman, said,  “This is what people get upset about, get discouraged about, it disenfranchises voters, and all three parties need to work together. He called on LaBuda to resign his candidacy.

Maas and Conservative Party chairman Ed Magilton did not speak. 

“I welcome a full and fair investigation of the Board of Elections’ practices to register new and other voters, and the party bosses’ attempts to control candidates in this election, by the state Board of Elections, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Voter Fraud for the Southern District of New York,” said LaBuda in his statement. 

LaBuda won the GOP  primary against acting DA Meagan Galligan in June, 1823 votes to 1648. LaBuda faces Galligan again in November; she has the support of the Democratic, Independence and Conservative parties.

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