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Borough candidates wait to hear petition challenges

The election season kicked into high gear Monday when the city Board of Elections began it hearings on designating petitions for candidates vying to represent the borough in Congress and the state Legislature.

Candidates and their staffs challenge the signatures on their opponents petitions in hopes it will force out their competition. The challenges to signatures collected are frequently used as a way to weed out some of the minor contenders in crowded races and set the stage for the September primary.

The filing of objections, the first step in the challenge process, started at midnight July 25 and ended July 29.

The person who has issued the challenge has six days from filing the objection to dispute individual signatures on the candidate’s designating petition. The time period for candidates to challenge their opponent started July 31 and ended Aug. 5.

The city Board of Elections opened its hearing on the challenges Monday. Any registered member of the same party as the candidate and who lives in the district can file an objection.

For an objector there are numerous grounds on which to dispute a candidate’s signatures ranging from claims of forgery to illegible signature and from illegible date to not using a pen.

A spokeswoman for the Board of Elections said not all of the cases were heard Monday, but a final list of all the candidates thrown off the ballot should be released later this week.

One Queens elected official, U.S. Rep Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), appears to have been initially successful in his attempt to knock a Republican challenger off the ballot.

Ackerman, who is running for re-election in November against Queens Village Republican Perry Reich, challenged the validity of the signatures Reich collected in his bid to get on the ballot.

Ackerman’s attorney, Emanuel Gold, a former state senator, said Tuesday the state Board of Elections invalidated 441 of Reich 1,477 signatures. A candidate needs 1,250 signatures for a valid petition, Gold said.

Reich confirmed that the state Board of Elections invalidated about 400 of his signatures, but the Republican denounced Ackerman for reaching outside his party to try to knock him off the ballot.

“It’s almost only done in the primary,” said Reich, who has been an election lawyer for 20 years. “We expect to be reinstated.”

Gold and Reich said when Ackerman began the petition challenge, Reich had already filed in Albany courts in a bid to sustain his petition and place on the ballot.

In the race for the Democratic nomination in the 16th Senate District, Marcia Lynn, who was competing against state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and former City Councilwoman Julia Harrison, said the city Board of Elections told her she did not have the 1,000 valid petition signatures needed to be placed on the election ballot.

Although more than 2,000 persons signed the civic activist’s petition, Lynn, who may appeal the ruling, said the Board of Elections validated fewer than 800.

Kathianne Boniello and Brendan Browne contributed to this story

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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