BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra Jr. handed down a preliminary injunction Friday that orders the Erie County Board of Elections to place Byron Brown on the Buffalo mayoral ballot.
The Board of Elections last week ruled Brown’s petition to get on the ballot with the “Buffalo Party” was invalid given that it was submitted months after the May 25 deadline. Brown’s campaign responded with lawsuits claiming the claims the state’s change of the deadline earlier this year was unconstitutional.
“I am even more confident that we will be victorious in the November 2 general election,” Brown proclaimed after the ruling.
Sinatra sided with Brown’s argument Friday, saying he heard convincing arguments that the earlier deadline infringed on voters’ constitutional rights based on a 40-year-old Supreme Court ruling. Walton called the ruling “a mockery of justice” and said she plans to appeal.
“I don’t think the voters are going to be fooled,” Walton added, “even though it’s confusing to the general public.”
The deadline for independent petitions to get on the ballot is 23 weeks before the election, or May 25. The deadline used to be 11 weeks before the election (in this case, Aug. 17), but the state legislature moved that to 23 weeks in early 2021 and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the change into law. But on Aug. 17, Brown submitted a petition with over 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot and promised to challenge the recent change.
Prior to Sinatra’s ruling, Brown – Buffalo’s four-term mayor – did not have a line to run on. He lost the Democratic primary election to India Walton, a proud democratic socialist whose upset victory received national attention.
“We knew that it would be a 50-50 proposition,” Brown said after the Board of Elections ruled against him last week. “So we anticipated the action of the Erie County Board of Elections. We respectfully disagree with their action, but we knew it would be a 50-50 proposition at best; but again, my focus remains on our write-in candidacy.”
But it now appears Brown won’t have to worry about getting write-in votes. This ruling orders the Board of Elections to allow Brown to run under the newly created Buffalo Party. Walton would have been the only candidate on the ballot: Neither the Republican Party nor any other party is running a candidate.
A WIVB/Emerson College poll of likely Buffalo voters early last month found Brown leading the race by 10 points.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for more developments.