Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), the Republican nominee in New York’s gubernatorial race who backed former President Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims, is facing claims that he submitted fake signatures to get an additional line on the ballot in the November election.
The New York State Board of Elections scrapped 12,868 of the 52,096 signatures submitted by Zeldin in his campaign’s attempt to also get on the state’s Independence Party ballot line in November, according to the Gotham Gazette. Under New York’s voting system, candidates are allowed to appear on more than one party line on the ballot, the outlet reports.
The tossed-out signatures put Zeldin under the number of 45,000 valid signatures needed to add a third party to the ballot, The Hill reported.
The action stemmed from a challenge by Andrew Kolstee, secretary of the state’s Libertarian Party, and Diane Sare, an independent U.S. Senate candidate.
The Libertarian Party claimed more than 11,000 of the tossed-out signatures were photocopies of previously submitted signatures, the news site reported.
“The Zeldin campaign’s attempt to defraud the electorate and pose as an independent campaign by filing thousands of photocopied signatures is a slap in the face to New York State voters and the election process,” Kolstee said in a statement.
Zeldin has an “outside shot” of appearing on the line if a judge overturns the board’s decision, according to the Albany Times-Union.
A Zeldin spokesperson told the Gotham Gazette that the campaign denied making “any photocopies.”
Sarah Steiner, a veteran election lawyer, told the news site it didn’t surprise her that all the signatures on the petition weren’t valid.
“Unless somebody accidentally mixed in pages that they had photocopied and then paginated them, in which case they would still be invalid, that’s a massive attempt at fraud,” Steiner said.
Jay Jacobs, chair of the state’s Democratic Party, noted to the Albany Times-Union that Zeldin backed Trump’s claims of election fraud back in 2020.
“Zeldin submitting 11,000 fake signatures just emphasizes his hypocrisy and proves he is willing to sell New Yorkers another ‘big lie’ to benefit his failing campaign,” Jacobs said.
The newspaper pointed out that Zeldin has an Election Integrity Task Force page on his campaign site.
Zeldin was among the Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
He is set to remain on the Conservative Party line along with his running mate — lieutenant governor nominee Alison Esposito — when he faces off against Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado in November.