These names aren’t funny, they’re forgeries!
That is the claim of a group that will challenge signatures submitted to the Board of Elections by City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo in state Supreme Court.
After the group revealed last week that Arroyo’s petitions listed such obviously bogus entries as Derek Jeter, broadcaster Joe Buck and Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein they decided to challenge 3,437 of the incumbent’s 3,863 signatures.
The Board of Elections has begun reviewing the lists, but Arroyo’s challenger in the 17th District, Julio Pabón, and his volunteers weren’t stopping at that.
“This is not an isolated incident of some joker signing one page of a petition ‘Derek Jeter,’ ‘Theo Epstein’ or ‘Kate Moss,’” said Donald Dunn, the attorney representing the Pabón campaign, who said he would file suit before the Thursday deadline. “Ms. Arroyo submitted page after page of blatant, obvious forgeries.”
Dunn said the group is heading for the courtroom because it believes the petitions submitted by Arroyo should be invalidated under New York state election law.
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Pabón and his supporters first planned on hitting the streets to check on addresses they found suspicious. Their goal: to gather affidavits from residents about the validity of Arroyo’s signatures.
A determination from the Board of Elections may come as early as this week, after officials scour each entry in the petitions of both parties.
The board will only throw out the names of people that are missing full addresses, do not live in the district or are not registered as Democratic.
The courts, on the other hand, have the authority to determine whether there is rampant fraud or irregularity in the rolls.
Both candidates need 450 signatures to remain on the ballot for the Sept. 10 primary.
The 17th District covers Hunts Point, Morrisania and sections of Highbridge.
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“It is equally telling that Ms. Arroyo could not find 450 real voters to support another year of the misfeasance and malfeasance that the Arroyo dynasty has wrought upon its constituents,” said Jocelyn Valenzuela, the volunteer coordinator for the Pabón campaign.
Arroyo, asked why so many apparent fakes made it into her petition, said she relies on staffers to run the collection.
“It is highly recommended that candidates do not handle their own petitions,” Arroyo said.
Her campaign has filed its own challenge against Pabón’s 2,500 signatures.
It was unclear whether her camp would pursue legal action.
Many in Pabón’s circle were surprised to hear that the Councilwoman did not have someone vet her petitions before submitting them.
“Ms. Arroyo knew or should have known that her entire petition is permeated with fraud,” Dunn said. “It is telling that Ms. Arroyo already has begun to distance herself from her own petition.”