BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Friday ruling at the Erie County Board of Elections blocked Mayor Byron Brown's attempt to get on the ballot for November's general election.
So now, if Buffalo's mayor is going to get his name on the ballot, he will have to win a court battle.
India Walton's upset victory in June's Democratic primary denied Brown the only ballot line he was competing for in his bid for a fifth term as mayor.
Then he launched a write-in campaign while working a separate strategy. Brown backers were circulating petitions for an independent ballot line, but those petitions with well over 3,000 signatures were delivered almost three months late, well past the deadline.
The argument made Friday by Brown campaign attorney Jerry Goldfeder is that when the petition deadline was changed two years ago, it was moved too early in the election calendar, violating the constitutional rights of Brown and Buffalo voters.
At Friday's hearing, that argument was rejected.
"I would rule the petition to be invalid, as being untimely, and wish both sides good luck as they litigate this out with people at a much higher pay grade than me," Republican elections commissioners Ralph M. Mohr said.
Added Jeremy Zellner, the Democratic elections commissioner: "We would have utter chaos here if we start to accept things past deadline that are set by the New York State legislature months in advance. So I would agree with commissioner Mohr and rule to invalid as well."
Mayor Brown disagreed with the decision.
"We knew however this went that it would go to a court process," he said. "And we have retained attorneys, and we respectfully disagree with the Board of Elections, and we will move forward now with our other legal options."
India Walton released the following statement Friday afternoon:
“I would like to congratulate the Erie County Board of Elections on meeting its constitutional duty to uphold state law and reject this untimely submission of ballot petitions. It is a shame that Byron Brown saw fit to subject the Board to this frivolous waste of time, rather than obeying the law, and showing voters and legislators the respect they deserve.”
The November ballot is scheduled to be set by September 9, less than two weeks away.