Resource: Hawatmeh v. NY State Board of Elections

By: COVID-Related Election Litigation Tracker

September 5, 2020

MIT-Stanford Healthy Elections Project

Petitioner filed a designating petition on March 20, designating Petitioner a Conservative Party candidate for the public office of Member of the US House of Representatives for the 19th Congressional District. Petitioner mailed to the Board of Elections the required certificate of acceptance on March 25, which was one day after the March 24 filing deadline. When the NY election calendar had set the deadline for filing at April 2, 2020, Petitioner scheduled out-of-state cancer treatments to occur between March 14-March 24. The filing deadline was changed to March 20 while Petitioner was out of NY to undergo such treatments. The Board determined the petition was invalid due to the late filing of the certificate of acceptance. Petitioner commenced an action to validate the petition and challenge the constitutionality of Chapter 24 of the Laws of 2020 (the act that changed the filing deadline). The NY Supreme Court dismissed Petitioner's application, refusing to validate Petitioner's designating petition. Petitioner appealed and the Appellate Division (Third Department) affirmed the Supreme Court's decision. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Third Department's decision (and resolved a departmental split as to whether the late filing of a portion of a designating petition (e.g., a cover sheet, a certificate of acceptance) constitutes a fatal defect that invalidates such a petition).