PRESS RELEASE: Niagara County DEMS, NAACP Leader, Stand with Working Families Party

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On Saturday April 17 outside the County Courthouse Building, numerous Niagara County Democratic Leaders and the Niagara Branch NAACP President stood with the Working Families Party in opposition to two Niagara County Republican lawsuits aimed at subverting the election process.

Recently the Niagara County Republican Party filed a lawsuit in an attempt to remove the endorsed Working Families Party candidates from the ballot because of a technicality regarding authorization forms. They are challenging the authenticity of the signature of the WFP Chairperson on the form since it was submitted electronically. According to executive order[1] signed by Governor Cuomo, a public notary may notarize a transmitted copy, among other safety provisions to the election process during the pandemic.

The Niagara County Democratic Committee is siding with the Working Families Party against the GOP’s voter suppression suit.

Democratic Chairman John Jacoby said “our country is in the midst of a deadly pandemic – rules were modified to make the handling of petitions safer. Somewhere in the hierarchy of the local Republican Party some clever, invisible person asked how can we exploit this situation?”

WNY Working Families Party Chair Louisa Pacheco also echoed, “We should not have to be in court right now battling a frivolous law suit, in our volunteer time, to protect voters. The law is on our side, the law was codified under the executive order to protect all of us including front line workers, healthcare workers, parents, students, and teachers.”

Additionally, the Niagara County Republicans have filed a second lawsuit in an attempt to restrict absentee voting to those who are at “risk of illness.”[2] This expanded definition of “illness” was prompted again in response to the pandemic. North Tonawanda Alderman and candidate for Mayor Austin Tylec responded “I have a very elderly aunt who has not left her house for a year now, and its people like her and so many others in our community that have worries still and want options besides having to go out to vote in a potential crowd.”

Niagara Falls Councilman and Legislator Candidate in the 6th District, Bill Kennedy, was endorsed by the Working Families and is also a target of the GOP lawsuit. He responded that “I’m not surprised by this. This is petty politics at its finest and this is what is holding Niagara County back. The person who objected to my petition is a registered Republican, not even a member of the Working Families Party. Good government includes giving a voters a choice in an election.”

The sentiment of giving voters a choice is one of the major reasons candidate Sara Beilein Capen said she is running for office. She said “This lawsuit is a threat to giving the voters of Newfane and Somerset a choice. It also threatens progress, sews further division, and is a threat to a first time candidate like me, who those papers were served to my son, at our home, while I was at work.”

If the Republicans are successful in their lawsuits 26 endorsed Working Families Party Candidates, who are also the endorsed Democratic Candidates, will be removed from the ballot this year. One of those impacted is County Legislator Anita Mullane, who is seeking re-election. She said “Giving voters a choice is important. As the endorsed Working Families Party candidate I know they stand for working people, organized labor, and is third-party option for voters. All we are doing is asking for voters to have a choice.”

The other side of this coin is the amount of time and work that goes into the endorsement and petition process. WNY Working Families Party board member and Niagara County voter Tom Roulley who was very actively involved in the endorsement process said “we did everything over zoom, interviewing 186 candidates from around WNY and most were half an hour each. Its just a shame the Republicans want to do voter suppression.”

The Niagara Falls Branch NAACP President Shirley Hamilton, whose organization is backing the WFP against the GOP lawsuit, said that “the NAACP will oppose any measure that will attempt to disenfranchise voters of their rights and privilege to vote. The voices of marginalized people are only heard when we exercise our right to vote and by having candidates with different ideas and viewpoints being allowed to have their names listed on the ballot. Our democracy depends on all the people, not some of the people exercising their right to vote.”


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