Orange County, NY – KJ Voters Working To Influence Primary Season With Use Of Special Petitions


    FILE - Two voters arrive at a polling station, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 in Kiryas Joel, N.Y.  APOrange County, NY – Voters in Kiryas Joel are taking advantage of an election law this primary season in several contests which allows party members to circulate what’s called an Opportunity-to-Ballot Petition, thus paving the way for a write-in candidate on a third-party line.

    The goal of this effort is to force a primary on minor-party lines for widely contested races in both the New York State Assembly and Senate.

    As the Record Online details (, on July 25, two petitions were filed with the intention of stealing the Women’s Equality and Working Families lines from Democrat Chris Eachus of New Windsor.

    The Orange County representative is challenging incumbent Republican Senator William Larkin Jr. for his seat in the 39th Senate District. Provided these petitions are successful and hold up to any validity challenges, elections will be held on September 13 on these two party lines, requiring voters to choose either Eachus – who has already been endorsed by both the Women’s Equality and Working Families parties – or to write in the name of another potential candidate.

    In 2013, KJ voters used this same strategy to rip the Working Families line away from Democratic candidate Roxanne Donnery, who was running for county executive. In that election, voters in KJ used a voting stamp at the polling site to print the name of Niki Lee Rowe as their preferred write-in candidate. Rowe wasn’t even running for the seat, but wound up beating Donnery 117-55 in the primary, and was listed as the Working Families candidate on the general-election ballot.

    An additional four Opportunity-to-Ballot petitions were filed on July 22 and July 25 in the 98th Assembly District bid, as a show of support for Democratic candidate Aron Weider from Rockland County.

    These petitions effectively serve as a challenge to incumbent Republican Assemblyman Karl Brabenec who is running on the Republican and Conservative lines, as well as, Democratic candidate Krystal Serrano who is running on the Women’s Equality line. It also lays claim to the Green Party line which currently has no candidate.

    “It’s something I’ve never really seen before in the 23 years I’ve been involved (in politics),” Assemblyman Brabenec said. “It’s definitely a different ball game.”

    A total of four candidates are vying for the 98th Assembly District seat, including Brabenec and John Allegro, a United Monroe activist, on the Republican lines, while Weider and Serrano are competing for the Democratic nomination. Weider and Brabenec will also face off in a primary for the Independence line.

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