NY 21st: Burke and Hassig bumped off ballot

Democrat Stephen Burke and the Green Party’s Donald Hassig will not appear on the June 24 primary ballot in the North Country’s Congress race, Board of Elections officials say, but Burke is appealing the decision.

Both candidates were denied spots on the ballot Wednesday after the board’s commissioners reviewed their petition submissions.

If Burke of Macomb and Hassig of Colton remain disqualified after any legal challenges, that would mean Democrat Aaron Woolf, of Elizabethtown and New York City, and the Green Party’s Matt Funiciello of Glens Falls would glide through the primaries uncontested and represent their partes in the Nov. 4 general election. Republicans Matt Doheny of Watertown and Elise Stefanik of Willsboro would still face off in a primary.

Burke was disqualified after the board, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, removed 175 signatures. He had submitted a petition with 1,291 signatures, so that left him below the required 1,250.

Burke had a hearing Wednesday to appeal that decision at the state Supreme Court in Albany, but it was postponed to Monday. He is being represented by James L. Monroe, an attorney from Canton.

“We are going to go to court on Monday and see if they overturn it,” Burke said.

Burke said the petitions that were thrown out are based on alterations to petitions. The petitioner, Jason Clark, originally objected to 380 of Burke’s signatures, according to Monroe.

“In other words, if you take your pen and scratch over it (a letter),” Burke said. “There was some of that.”

Tom Connolly, spokesperson for the Board of Elections, said usually petitions are rejected when a person who signed is not a registered voter or a registered member of the party.

Hassig was disqualified because the Board of Elections received his petitions after the deadline. His petitions were postmarked on April 10, the last day they could be sent, but were received on April 14, and the federal election calendar says in a different section of the guidelines than Hassig was reading, that they must be received at the latest by April 11.

“It is unfair for the BOE to deprive me of the benefit of having obtained sufficient signatures to have a ballot line in a Green Party primary,” Hassig wrote.

He gathered 61 signatures, enough to be accepted as a Green Party candidate. Connolly said Hassig did not follow federal guidelines.

“In the federal calendar it specifically states it has to be overnight delivery and be received one business day later,” Connolly said.

The federal calendar is posted on the homepage of the Board of Elections website.

Hassig said he would have followed those guidelines with no problem, but the Board of Elections did not revise its instructions to make the requirement known.

“My decision is to now shift all efforts to environmental protection activism and not spend another minute or another penny on political activism in 2014,” he wrote in a press release.

Hassig may or may not seek to challenge the ruling. The activist, known for discussing hydrofracking and how eating animal fats can cause cancer, expressed interest in running again in 2016.