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Court Upholds Cuomo’s Cancellation of Queens BP Special Election, Keeping Quinn Off Ballot

Jim Quinn (Jim Quinn for Queens campaign)

May 19, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A Queens Supreme Court Judge has ruled to uphold Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order cancelling the special election for Queens borough president — effectively kicking Jim Quinn out of the race.

Quinn, a former prosecutor in the Queens District Attorney’s Office, filed a lawsuit demanding the special election be reinstated after Cuomo signed an executive order cancelling the special election late last month in favor of the primary election scheduled for the same day.

Quinn was knocked out of the race because he didn’t petition to run in the primary election.

He only petitioned for the nonpartisan special election, which was scheduled for June 23 (after being postponed from March 24 due to COVID-19) — the same day as the Democratic primary.

The governor then axed the June 23 special election altogether instead of having two separate elections for the same position on the same day — forcing Quinn off the ballot.

Quinn and a second candidate who remains on the ballot, Dao Yin, tried to challenge the governor’s decision in court.

“Absent immediate relief here, I will lose my chance to run for the political office for which I was duly qualified to be on the ballot under the Election Law, and thousands of New Yorkers will lose ballot access for this important local election,” Quinn said in an emergency affidavit filed in Queens Supreme Court earlier this month.

However, the court ruled in favor of the governor and State Board of Elections.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert Caloras acknowledged the harm Cuomo’s executive order caused Quinn..

“In this instance, it is the opinion of this Court that the respondent Governor’s action went well beyond what was necessary under the circumstances, thereby burdening petitioner’s fundamental rights,” he wrote in his decision.

However, he pointed out that Quinn decided on his own not to file for the primary race.

“[Quinn] has demonstrated the harm occasioned by Governor Cuomo’s actions,” Caloras wrote. “However, it was petitioner’s own actions by which he ran only in the Special Election, and not the Primary, which must be taken into consideration of the hardship he now claims to have suffered.”

He also said Quinn waited 15 days after Cuomo cancelled the special election on April 24 to take legal action and if the court were to reinstate the special election now, the Board of Elections would have little time to follow through.

“This Court finds the time constraints, logistical difficulties and public expenses incurred by reinstating the Special Election to be of significant import.”

Lastly, Justice Caloras wrote that the interest of the public and the respondents must be considered. He ruled that reinstating the special election would cause greater harm to the public and BOE than its cancellation has caused Quinn.

“In evaluating the instant circumstances, the Court finds that the totality of the equities balance in favor of the respondents, and that reinstatement of the Special Election during this pandemic emergency, which continues to date, is not warranted.”

The court’s decision applies to Yang’s lawsuit challenging Cuomo’s executive order as well.

Quinn’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

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