Reform Party Opportunity to Ballot forces election in each town, paid for by taxpayers

Due to the filing of an Opportunity to Ballot by Michael Wendel, seeking a line on the ballot to challenge County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach, a Democrat, there will be a primary election in every election district in Ulster County on Tuesday, September 12. Wendel is seeking the Reform Party line. There are 11 citizens registered in the Reform Party in Ulster County. There will be no names listed on the ballot. Still, every town will open its voting booths.

Those who are not registered in any party will be able to vote in the Reform Party primary.

Despite consolidating polling places and limiting the number of election workers, it could cost taxpayers upwards of $42,000 to run the Tuesday primaries, where, based on experience, perhaps 2,500 voters will participate in the contest, said a county board of elections commissioner.

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“I think it’s an incredible waste of money and we’re doing what we can to control costs, but I guess that’s the price of democracy,” Democratic commissioner Ashley Dittus said. The estimated cost includes the expense of about 67 poll workers at $125 a day each.

Wendell was rejected by the Conservative Party executive committee when leaders discovered an order of protection had been issued after Wendell confronted incumbent Democrat comptroller Auerbach in Ellenville earlier this summer. Nonetheless, as an enrolled Conservative, his petitions were accepted by the Board of Elections and he will appear in November on the ballot.

The Reform Party was formed by former Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino in 2013 for his race against Democrat Andrew Cuomo. There are, however, 33,130 persons registered as Not Of Party (NOP) who are eligible to write in Wendel’s name at primary. “We are not aware of any outreach by the Reformed Party to those voters. We have no idea how many will vote,” Dittus said, noting that Wendel’s name will not appear on any ballot.

Voter turnout in county-wide major party primaries averages 13 percent, Dittus said, or about 2,500 NOPs on Tuesday.

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