The following is a guest post by Raymond Dague, an attorney practicing in Syracuse, NY.
What is Dan Maffei saying in the Lawsuit he filed last Friday?
The usual rule of the law is that when someone wrongs you or does something illegal, you get to sue them. But Dan Maffei, the Democratic candidate in the 24th congressional district running against incumbent Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, has sued her in advance. Yup. Not a single vote has been cast or counted, but Maffei has sued his opponent over his concerns about the counting of votes all across central New York.
He has not stopped with just suing Buerkle. He has also sued all of the commissioners of the boards of election in Onondaga County, Cayuga County, Oswego County, and Wayne County. Since each county has both a Democrat and Republican as election commissioners in each county, this means that Maffei is suing the Republican commissioners (no surprise here), but also the commissioners of election of his own party. Apparently Maffei does not trust anyone in this congressional district to count the votes properly.
Last Friday morning his lawyers from the Albany area filed legal papers in the county clerk’s office in Syracuse. What is the basis of his lawsuit? Maffei’s lawsuit speculates that the canvass of the votes in these four counties by all of the election officials, both Republican and Democrat “may be, and often is incomplete and inaccurate.” He also speculates (once again, without any actual facts) that “several of the voting machines in the subject political subdivisions may malfunction or break down and fail to count all of the votes” for Maffei. Mr. Maffei’s sworn affidavit also goes on to say that he wants an “impoundment and protection of the voting machines and ballots.” He claims to be concerned that the failure to do what he wants “would irreparably harm” him in the election and “undermine public confidence in the electoral process.” He says the he wants to prevent “irregularity and fraud,” but he mentions no actual instances of this irregularity or fraud. He apparently thinks that irregularity or fraud might be out there somewhere, but he does not trust the Democrats who are election officials in each district to give integrity to the election process.
Not all of what Maffei says in his lawsuit is just speculation about the future vote to take place on Election Day. In one part of his lawsuit he uses some magical process of prognostication to tell us what will happen on election evening and afterward as absentee ballots are being counted by the Democrats and Republican officials. He says (under oath, mind you) that “absentee ballots will be issued by the various Boards of Elections in error, based upon sufficient, fraudulent or forged applications.” He also says that these fraudulent or forged applications will result in “absentee ballots [which] will be returned to the Boards of Elections which will not comply with Election Law, and therefore will be invalid,” and that “there will be absentee ballots that will not have been reviewed by the various Boards of Elections in a timely fashion.” How does this guy know this? Is he using the same crystal ball that he used to decide how he should vote when was in congress before Ann Marie Buerkle beat him in 2010? Not likely, since when in congress, if it involved spending money or running up the deficit, Maffei simply voted yes. That required no crystal ball.
Maffei then goes on in his lawsuit to drop the crystal ball gig, and to continue to wildly speculate as to what might happen. He speculates that “the canvass of ballots may include objections to affidavit and absentee ballots submitted by voters who are not qualified to vote,” and that he wants “the challenges to registrations of certain voters, requiring Court intervention to have law enforcement authorities verify registrations.” What? Maffei does not trust the election officials, even those of his own party, so he wants the police to do the job!
Perhaps the most surprising thing in this lawsuit is that Maffei asks the court “to direct that attorneys and those working for attorneys be permitted to be present in the Board of Elections Offices which are ‘polling places’ as poll watchers without regard to their residence within the State of New York.” So, Maffei is admitting that he does not have enough local supporters to be his poll watchers. Apparently he wants out of state lawyers and their staff to be poll watchers. He does stop short of asking for United Nation’s inspectors to be present on his behalf.
Maffei makes many more wild predictions of what will happen in this counting of votes–all of them to his detriment. If the rest of us used the courts the way Maffei is using the courts, we could all sue everyone about not what they did to us, but what they might do to us tomorrow, or next year. The Maffei way of speculative lawsuits would result in us all being able to sue auto companies today over what might malfunction in our cars tomorrow, sue doctors in advance because their surgery on us might not cure us, or sue our neighbor because his dog might dig up our garden next summer.
Not content to trust the election officials, Maffei is asking a judge in the Onondaga County courthouse on Monday, November 5that 4:00 pm to decide things for the count of votes in this election. This costs taxpayers, since lawyers now need to be hired to fight his lawsuit. But then, Mr. Maffei rarely is concerned about the cost to the taxpayer. The government can just borrow a little more.
Raymond J. Dague is a Syracuse, New York attorney. He can be found on the web at www.DagueLaw.com