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Protecting the democratic process is all-important

September 5, 2019 05:30 pm Updated: September 5, 2019 11:11 pm

When Democratic leaders from Greene County’s mountaintop region and the county at large have an opportunity to make their case Sept. 11 about the controversial Windham Town Democratic caucus, it should be an interesting day at the Greene County Courthouse.

Windham attorney Kevin Maldonado filed a petition for a hearing on behalf of town supervisor candidate Nick Bove and town council candidate Natasha Shuster, who claim the caucus was undermined by Town Democratic Party Chairman Tom Poelker. State Supreme Court Judge Lisa M. Fisher agreed to hear the case.

The petition alleges that Poelker held the caucus July 24, just a day before the deadline for paperwork from the caucus was due at the Greene County Board of Elections. The county and state boards of elections are named in the petition as co-defendants.

State election law allows paperwork postmarked July 25 to be accepted if it is received within two business days. Greene County Democratic Chairwoman Carolyn Riggs said she made several attempts July 25 to contact Poelker to make sure the county board of elections received the paperwork by the end of business, but got no reply from Poelker.

Bove and Shuster said they met with Poelker on July 25 and Poelker assured them the paperwork would be filed. Poelker mailed the paperwork on July 27 and it was received on July 30, five days after the deadline, Maldonado said.

Poelker blames Shuster for turning in the paperwork too late. Shuster denies Poelker’s version of the events.

It’s good for the Democrats that a judge agreed to hold a hearing on this matter. Fisher will have a lot of testimony to sort out before she reaches a decision. The biggest question she will have to answer is why Poelker, a skilled veteran political figure locally and statewide, would turn against two solid candidates from his own party.

Protecting democracy, whether the party affiliation is Democratic or Republican, is of paramount importance. Every vote counts, even those cast at party caucuses.