2nd Circuit Cancels Special GOP Primary In NY 3rd Congressional District

After months of back and forth, the Second Circuit overturned a district court decision that had scheduled a special Republican primary on October 6 in the race for New York's 3rd congressional seat:

U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin set the Oct. 6 primary in an Aug. 17 ruling and ordered the state Board of Elections to apply for an exemption to a federal law setting deadlines for mailing absentee ballots to overseas military voters. 

Martins appealed to the Second Circuit after Scullin later rejected his request to delay the general election to Dec. 6, arguing only a month between the GOP primary and Nov. 8 general would disenfranchise military voters and disadvantage his campaign. 

Pidot went to federal court after the state Supreme Court ruled June 24 that there was not enough time to put him on the ballot for the original June 28 primary. Martins supporters knocked him off the ballot in May, but the court later found he had enough petition signatures from Republican voters to qualify as a candidate. 

The Second Circuit's decision relied, in part, on the roles of federal and state courts in election matters:

Wednesday’s ruling falls in line with nine other cases in which federal courts denied candidates’ request to get on the ballot after losing in state court, according to a Sept. 1 case study by the Federal Judicial Center. . . . In court filings, the state Board of Elections . . . asked the Second Circuit to cancel the primary because federal courts have no jurisdiction over election matters.

“The Second Circuit has long recognized that state forums are the appropriate place to litigate disputes about the mechanics of election administration,” lawyers for the board wrote in a court filing. 

Last Wednesday's ruling has important implications for ballot access, election administration, and the state-federal balance in control of elections.