Koffman Back on Ballot, Seawright Affirmed

Appellate court rules on two ballot challenges

| 15 May 2020 | 12:28

More than 60 New Yorkers logged onto Zoom Thursday evening to take part in a rally to celebrate a state appellate court’s decision to restore Cameron Koffman’s place on the Democratic Primary ballot for the 73rd Assembly District after his opponent questioned the validity of Koffman’s candidacy in a lawsuit.

It was not just a win for Koffman — a 22-year-old Upper East Side native and great grandson of a real estate tycoon running to unseat incumbent Assembly Member Dan Quart — his campaign says, but a win for college students and their right to vote.

Last week, Judge Carol Edmead kicked Koffman off the ballot, ruling that his decision to register to vote and cast votes in Connecticut while he attended Yale University violated New York State residency requirements and disqualified him for running for office. The rules say that candidates must maintain five continuous years of residency in the state running up to an election to appear on the ballot. Although he grew up on the Upper East Side, Koffman voted in Connecticut elections in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Koffman has argued all along that he maintained his status as a New York resident by claiming his East 72nd Street family home as his permanent address, and the appellate court agreed. The First Appellate Division, in a 4-1 decision, wrote that Koffman provided enough proof that his presence in Connecticut was “temporary” and that he intended to return to New York upon graduation.

“Today’s win is a win for tens of thousands of students, for the voters of the 73rd District who will have their first contested Democratic primary since 2002, and for all New Yorkers fighting against corruption,” read a statement from Koffman’s campaign. “We look forward to competing for the votes of the East Side and highlighting our message of a new generation of ethical leadership.”

Quart said he will not give up on this effort, and will appeal Thursday’s decision.

“The decision to reinstate Cameron Koffman despite his lengthy voting record in Connecticut is the wrong one,” Quart said in a statement. “It sends a simple but clear message: if you’re wealthy and well-connected, you can bend the law to your will.”

"Not a Fatal Defect"

Meanwhile, the appellate court filed an opinion in a separate case Thursday, affirming Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright’s place on the ballot. Last week, Edmead had ruled in Seawright’s favor, saying a documentation error the assembly member had when turning in her petition signatures for did not warrant her removal from the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.

Seawright’s Republican opponent, Louis Puliafito, appealed Edmead’s ruling, but the appellate court helped up the decision.

"We hold that under the unique circumstances existing in New York City during the past few months, and the specific health challenges alleged here, the belated filing of these specific documents is not a fatal defect," the ruling reads.

Seawright applauded the appellate court’s ruling.

“The courts protected the voters of the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island from being deprived of their right to choose," Seawright said in a statement. “We will never be intimidated by those who put pandemic politics above the interests of justice.”

"The courts protected the voters of the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island from being deprived of their right to choose." Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright