A simple paperwork snafu may have just cost Democrats a long-held Manhattan state Assembly seat.
The state Board of Elections Tuesday knocked three-term incumbent Rebecca Seawright off the Democratic and Working Families Party lines — for simply failing to include cover sheets with her ballot petitions.
The stunning development leaves GOP candidate Louis Puliafito, a 62-year-old doorman, as the main party candidate on the ballot in the Upper East Side’s 76th Assembly District. And with the petition period over, the Democratic Party has no candidate on its line.
Seawright, an attorney who said she had a “COVID-like” viral infection during the March petitioning period, is already in Manhattan state Supreme Court seeking to get reinstated.
But she’s leaving nothing to chance. A source close to the assemblywoman said she has already begun the process to collect voter signatures to run on an independent ballot line. She has until May 25 to do so.
The Post on Sunday first reported on her ballot woes.
The 10-member election board — which includes five Democratic and five Republican commissioners — voted unanimously to toss Seawright, a lawyer, from both ballot lines after hearings Tuesday.
The board’s legal staff recommended that Seawright be tossed from the Democratic Party line for failing to file a cover sheet with petitions containing voter signatures. Her campaign filed a cover sheet some two weeks after the deadline.
The assemblywoman, first elected in 2014, also failed to file a certificate of acceptance to appear on the Working Families Party ticket. She didn’t file it until April 2, election officials concluded
During the hearings, Seawright’s attorney, Greg Soumas, said the assemblywoman did file the necessary paperwork — albeit after the deadlines.
He noted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had shortened the petition-filing period to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
Soumas also said Seawright had a “COVID-like” illness during the petition filing period.
But Puliafito’s lawyer, Ezra Glaser, scoffed at the explanations. “[Seawright] knows the election law. An exception can’t be made,” Glaser said.
He also mocked the defense of having “COVID-like” symptoms — not COVID — for failing to file the proper work.
“This is the lamest excuse of I’ve ever heard,” Glaser said afterward, noting there were no exceptions for candidates with cancer or other illnesses.
Seawright did miss some time in Albany last month when she was stricken with a viral infection.
During the hearing, none of the commissioners raised any questions before voting.
Seawright is well regarded in Albany, where she serves as secretary of the Democratic Assembly Conference and has backed issues promoting women’s rights.
She slammed the board’s ruling as “shameful pandemic politics!”
“COVID-19 has turned the entire world upside down — but it’s business as usual due to New York’s antiquated, arcane, and outdated election laws in desperate need of reform,” Seawright said.
“Now more than ever we must protect every voter’s right to choose! More than 1,000 supporters signed my nominating petitions, nearly eight times more than the requirement. But the myopic election laws disenfranchise each and every voter of the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island. My Republican opponent’s backdoor effort to sabotage my supporters will not prevail. I am already in court to have the board’s ruling thrown out and to reinstate me to the ballot.”
She added: “Let me be clear: I expect to win and be restored to the Democratic line and also run on the ballot as an independent candidate in the November general election. I have been a Democrat, a fighter and a champion for election reform for my entire career in public service.”
State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said it would be an injustice for Seawright to be knocked off the ballot over a technicality “in the middle of a pandemic.”
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