Queens borough president candidate Jim Quinn is now off the ballot after a court upheld Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order to cancel the special election.
Quinn, former Queens Assistant District Attorney who was running on a law and order platform, only filed petitions for the special election and not the June 23 primary, leaving him out of the race.
The special election was originally scheduled for March 24 by Mayor Bill de Blasio, but was later postponed until June 23 due to COVID-19. Cuomo then canceled it with an executive order on Friday, April 24, in an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19.
A spokesperson for Quinn told QNS he is considering his options on whether or not to appeal the decision.
“We were disappointed in the decision, particularly in light of the fact that the judge agreed with the merits of our case that canceling the election was extreme and unnecessary,” his spokesperson said.
Quinn said that the outright cancellation of the election was an “unnecessary abuse of power that deprives voters of their rights,” adding that Cuomo could’ve just adopted the absentee voting option that is already taking place for other elections on that date.
He related the issue to that of the Democratic presidential primary election in June, which a federal judge ordered to reinstate following a lawsuit from former U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang and his delegates.
But the court gathered that the two issues differ.
In their decision, the court stated the special election will serve only to fill a non-legislative and non-executive position for six months and that there is already an appointed individual — Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee — serving in the role until the general election takes place in November.
“This is clearly unlike Yang, where the import of canceling a presidential primary election would have excluded large numbers of delegates from the 2020 Democratic Party Convention,” the court wrote. “Furthermore, this court cannot ignore the fact that, as Governor Cuomo’s order to cancel the election indicates, by bringing more people into the polling places on June 23, 2020, there is an enhanced chance that more people will contract and spread COVID-19.”
The court, which held the hearing for the case on May 14, also cited how difficult it would be for the Board of Elections to switch course and produce ballots as well as meet other requirements prior to the June 23 election.
Additionally, the court pointed to Quinn’s own decision not to petition for the primary and his delay in bringing the lawsuit as he filed it several weeks after Cuomo issues his executive order — and after Yang won his lawsuit in reinstating the presidential primary.
“Granting [Quinn’s] relief in light of his own delay results in hardship … and is well outside the expeditious measures set forth in the Election Law,” the court wrote.
The court also took note of how the other five other candidates, Councilmen Costa Constantinides and Donovan Richards, former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and former NYPD officer Anthony Miranda, didn’t fight the decision and adjusted their campaigns.
But Quinn wasn’t the only candidate who filed a lawsuit against Cuomo — Queens businessman Dao Yin also filed a lawsuit shortly after Quinn on Friday, May 8. But unlike Quinn, Yin remains on the ballot.
“We sought to assist Jim Quinn in his attempt to get back on the ballot in the special election, and given that he has sacrificed so much to run for office, it is unfortunate that he is now out of the race,” said Yin.
The court’s decision goes for both of the lawsuits, although they varied somewhat. One of Yin’s main concerns were about the thousands of votes that were already cast during early voting in March, before Mayor Bill de Blasio postponed the special election for June in an effort to stop the further spread of COVID-19.
“We are disappointed by the court’s decision, which rests on a related lawsuit filed by another candidate and does not address the particular facts of Dao Yin’s case,” said Aaron Foldenauer, Dao Yin’s attorney and campaign manager. “Unfortunately, the decision will be used as supporting precedent if any other politician, including Donald Trump, ever seeks to cancel an election on account of an alleged emergency.”
A Board of Elections spokesperson declined to comment on the issue and Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment.