Zeldin loses Independence line after nearly 13K petition signatures ruled invalid
Joshua Solomon is reporting for the Times Union U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for governor, will unlikely run on the Independence Party line after the state Board of Elections invalidated nearly 13,000 signatures on his petitions. Zeldin is set to face Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul in the general election on November 8. His name will appear on the Republican and Conservative lines while Hochul's name will be on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines. Zeldin's campaign submitted about 52,000 signatures, more than the 45,000 needed to get his name on the third-party line. However, the disqualified signatures left him well short after the board's ruling. The filing period ended on May 31. Zeldin's petitions were challenged by the New York Libertarian Party, who not only contested the signatures were invalid but also noted that 11,000 of the signatures were photocopied duplicates. "Republicans talk a lot about election integrity, but the Zeldin campaign attempted to fly under the radar and submit over 11,000 fraudulent signatures in an attempt to get the third line on the ballot," Andrew Kolstee, secretary of the Libertarian Party, said in a July 14 news release. The Board of Elections does not make determinations on fraud related to petition signatures so the matter is now pending in court. The board ruled that 12,868 signatures were invalid, leaving Zeldin with 39,228. If a judge overrules the board's decision, Zeldin's name could still potentially appear on the Independence Party line. On Zeldin's campaign website, it calls for people to join "Team Zeldin's Election Integrity Task Force." The website says, "Our team will be working around the clock now and into November to ensure we have fair elections, but we can't do it alone." Zeldin voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Read more in the Times Union.