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Erie County Board of Elections certifies November ballot without Byron Brown's name

Thomas O'Neil-White
Erie County Republicans Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr holds up the ballot for the November 2021 ballot after certifying it on Sept. 17, 2021.

After weeks of uncertainty, the Erie County Board of Elections formally certified its November ballot on Friday — without Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown's name on it.

Officially, Brown is off the ballot after his push to run on an independent line, the Buffalo Party, was dealt serious blows in both state and federal court on Thursday. A federal appeals court in Manhattan issued a stay on an earlier ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Frank Sinatra that ordered the county Board of Elections to place Brown on the ballot, while the state appeals court in Rochester reversed a similar order by state Justice Paul Wojtaszek.

Brown missed the state’s independent nominating petition deadline by several months, but Sinatra and Wojtaszek had ruled the deadline was unfair to independent candidates.

Brown and others can still run as write-in candidates, but Brown’s Democratic primary opponent, India Walton, for now, is the only candidate on the ballot.

Thomas O'Neil-White
Erie County Elections Commissioners Ralph Mohr and Jeremy Zellner certify the November 2021 ballot Sept. 17, 2021.

Anticipating a large write-in turnout for Brown in November, Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner said it’s important for the board to get the public to understand write-in and write-in ballot counting process.

“Post-Election Day, this is an unprecedented situation for this size of a potential write-in campaign,” he said. “It’s going to take us some time.”

Zellner said it is not the board’s job to promote write-in tutorial.

“That’s what is very concerning to me,” he said. “It’s not our job to promote a write-in campaign. I think we must be very careful on what we do moving forward.”

Zellner floated the possibility of getting write-in candidate campaign teams to further educate the public on how to properly write-in a candidate on the ballot.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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