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State court upholds decision to keep Greenberg off the ballot

Gary Greenberg 

Gary Greenberg 

ALBANY COUNTY — Gary Greenberg, a Democrat running for state senator of the 46th District, has failed his attempt to remain on the ballot following a challenge over the number of qualifying signatures he received.

On May 4, Acting State Supreme Court Justice David A. Weinstein ruled that the New York State Board of Elections was correct to deem some signatures ineligible, and that Greenberg had no valid claim that the process was unconstitutional.

Greenberg all but announced his candidacy for the state senate seat last December and, after Jeff Collins dropped out, became Michelle Hinchey’s sole Democratic opponent.

Hinchey of Saugerties is the daughter of the late United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey, and is backed by the Democratic committees of each of the five counties covered totally or partially by the 46th District (Greene, Montgomery, Albany, Schenectady, and Ulster).

Greenberg, who lives in Greene County, is a child-victims advocate, having been victimized himself in his youth.

The incumbent senator, Republican George Amedore, is not seeking re-election. Conservative Richard Amedure, of Rensselaerville, is running for the 46th on the Republican line.

Greenbrg told The Enterprise he would not continue his appeal. “There is little time left to campaign under a pandemic,” he said.

But he also said, “I am not leaving State Senate 46th race.” He said he will pursue a write-in campaign, or, if the governor reopens the petition process, try to secure another line. 

In March, after candidates submitted their petitions — which were required to have a minimum of 300 voters’ signatures to secure a ballot position — the chairman of the Rensselaerville Democratic party, Hébert Joseph, challenged the number of signatures that Greenberg submitted. 

Greenberg’s petition originally had 337 signatures. After a review by the state’s board of elections, only 291 of those were deemed valid. Signatures were struck because of mislabeled dates, incorrect addresses, and other inaccuracies. 

The threshold this year was lower than in years’ past because Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that reduced the requirements — a response to the obstacles in petitioning, usually door-to-door, presented by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In challenging his disqualification from the ballot, Greenberg argued that Joseph, as chairman of the Rensselaerville Democratic party, was not allowed to challenge Greenberg’s petition; that the reduced-signatures order by the governor was unconstitutional; and that nine signatures were improperly struck from Greenberg’s petition.

Weinstein determined that there was no law prohibiting Joseph from submitting a challenge against Greenberg’s petition, and that there is no reason to believe that the governor’s executive order “reflects anything other than a balancing between the need for a candidate to demonstrate a modicum of support, and the limitations and serious obstacles imposed by the pandemic.”

As for the signatures, Weinstein determined that past litigation attempting to portray the laws determining valid signatures as unconstitutional has never succeeded, and so precedent dictates that Greenberg’s argument fails as well. 

“In light of the foregoing,” Weinstein wrote in the conclusion of his decision, “Greenberg’s challenge to the Board’s rejection of the five signatures which list the village of the voter cannot succeed. As a result, he falls short of the 300 signatures he requires. I need not, therefore, address his challenge to the removal of four signatures bearing the incorrect date.”

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