Rep. Lee Zeldin (RN.Y.), the Republican candidate in the New York gubernatorial race who endorsed former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, faces accusations that he submitted false signatures to obtain an additional line on the ballot in the November election.
The New York State Board of Elections tossed out 12,868 of the 52,096 signatures submitted by Zeldin in his campaign’s bid to also be included on the state’s Independence Party ballot in November, according to the Gotham Gazette. Under New York’s voting system, candidates can appear on more than one party line on the ballot, the outlet reports.
The discarded signatures put Zeldin below 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 Libertarian Party, and Diane Sare, an independent candidate for the US Senate.
The Libertarian Party claimed that more than 11,000 of the discarded 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 submitting thousands of photocopied signatures is a slap in the face to New York State voters and the electoral process,” Kolstee said in a statement.
Zeldin has an “outside shot” of appearing in 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 “photocopies.”
Sarah Steiner, a veteran election attorney, told the news site that she was not surprised that all of the signatures on the petition were invalid.
“Unless someone accidentally mixes up pages that they have photocopied and then paginated, in which case they would still be invalid, that is a massive fraud attempt,” Steiner said.
Jay Jacobs, chairman of the state Democratic Party, told the Albany Times-Union that Zeldin backed up Trump’s 2020 voter fraud claims.
“Zeldin’s submission of 11,000 bogus signatures only emphasizes his hypocrisy and shows that he is willing to sell New Yorkers another ‘big lie’ to benefit his failed campaign,” Jacobs said.
The newspaper noted that Zeldin has an Electoral Integrity Task Force page on his campaign site.
Zeldin was among the Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election after the riots on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.
He will remain in the Conservative Party line along with his running mate, Lieutenant Governor nominee Alison Esposito, when he faces Governor Kathy Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado in November.