East Hampton’s independent Chatham Party is asking a court judge to stop the town clerk from disqualifying third party candidates from the ballot due to a filing technicality from a 2011 change to Connecticut election laws.
The party filed a writ of mandamus in Middletown Superior Court Tuesday morning seeking an order to stop East Hampton Town Clerk Sandra Wieleba from removing the party’s candidates from the November ballot.
Currently the party’s 16 candidates—including the four incumbent town council members—are ineligible thanks to a 2011 change to the state’s election law requiring minor party candidates to individually sign certificates of endorsement filed with town clerks. The rule is currently affecting minor parties in six towns around the state.
That requirement was communicated to town clerks in July 2011; Wieleba said that she and other town clerks had overlooked the issue during the 2011 municipal elections. It was brought to light most recently because a CT Tea Party candidate in Bethel was disqualified from the ballot.
Republican and Democratic candidates follow no such rule.
Wieleba received an opinion from the Secretary of State’s office Friday indicating that the paperwork was incomplete, so the Chatham Party candidates were not eligible for the ballot.
“This is discrimination against minor parties,” Council Chair Sue Weintraub said in a prepared statement. “The Secretary of State’s Office should take responsibility for not properly communicating these new requirements to State Town Clerks and minor parties. In addition, our legislators must correct this inequity in the law.”
If the court does not grant the party’s request, the Chatham Party candidates will have to run as write-in candidates in East Hampton.