Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), a Trump ally who pushed lies about fraud in the 2020 election and who is now running as New York’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, has been booted from the Independence Party line on the state’s ballot over thousands of invalid petition signatures.
The New York State Board of Elections found earlier this week that of the 52,096 signatures the Zeldin campaign had submitted in its petition to get his name on the Independence Party line, nearly 13,000 were invalid.
With the invalid signatures removed, Zeldin was left with just about 39,000, failing to reach the 45,000 minimum signature requirement threshold.
Zeldin will remain on the ballot lines for the Republican Party and the Conservative Party in the November election against incumbent New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).
The New York State Board of Elections (SBOE) report comes in response to an objection filed by Andrew Kolstee, the secretary of the Libertarian Party of New York. He filed a complaint with SBOE on June 3 objecting to Zeldin’s Independence Party petition, claiming it was “insufficient, void, and not in accordance with” New York’s election laws.
Kolstee alleged that 11,198 of the signatures on the petition had been duplicated via photocopy and were therefore fraudulent.
The Libertarian Party official’s complaint prompted the SBOE to review the signatures and determine that about 13,000 of them were invalid.
Kolstee put Zeldin on blast as he applauded the SBOE’s decision on Thursday.
“The Zeldin campaign’s attempt to defraud the electorate and pose as an independent campaign by filing thousands of photocopied signatures is a slap in the face to New York State voters and the election process,” he said.
It’s worth noting that it’s not clear if Zeldin’s campaign or a third party is responsible for collecting the allegedly invalid signatures. It is also not clear if the invalid signatures were deliberately duplicated, as Kolstee alleged in his objection. The SBOE’s report does not explain why the signatures were found to be invalid, and a spokesperson for the board who spoke to local outlets about the matter — which is now pending in court — said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
A judge could still overrule the board’s decision on the signatures.
The Zeldin campaign did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment. A campaign spokesperson told local media that the campaign didn’t have the bandwidth to go through all the signatures, but said the campaign did not make any photocopies.
“Being nearly an entirely grassroots effort, we haven’t reviewed all of the petitions nor the specific objections associated with them,” campaign spokesperson Katie Vincentz, said in a statement to the Times-Union. “In the final few days leading up to the filing deadline, tens of thousands of signatures from all over the state had to be immediately turned into the Board of Elections. While the Zeldin for New York campaign is not aware of photocopies, we certainly didn’t make any photo copies.”
The revelations of the invalid signatures on Zeldin’s petition come as the GOP lawmaker, like other Trump foot soldiers in Congress, fixate on the Big Lie, “election integrity” and falsely paint voter fraud as a massive issue. Additionally, Zeldin was one of the House Republicans who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory on the basis of ex-President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread fraud.
Read the SBOE’s report on Zeldin’s petition below: