2019 Jersey City Board of Education Election Cases

Holding a fair election, free from improper interference, is a crucial part of having a working democratic society. Whether an election involves a seat on the national stage or a local position on a city’s Board of Education, the importance of protecting the fairness of the voting process cannot be understated.

Several laws—federal, state, and local—address the issue of having a fair procedure for democratically elected governmental positions. Bendit Weinstock, P.A. was recently involved in a matter involving improper or unfair election conduct and procedures.

The Alexander He Was Meant to Be

One of our cases involving the Jersey City BOE election involves the disqualification of one of three running mates on the Change for Children ticket: Alexander Hamilton. Bendit Weinstock, P.A.’s own Joseph H. Tringali represented Mr. Hamilton in a lawsuit against the Hudson County Clerk for wrongfully disqualifying him from the Jersey City BOE ballot.

Although his birth certificate read “Vernon Alexander Hamilton,” the Jersey City BOE hopeful was known by friends and colleagues as “Alexander” or just “Alex” for his entire life. Mr. Tringali and his team provided evidence that Mr. Hamilton was referred to as “Alexander” or "Alex" on official documents, including his social security records, marriage certificate, driver’s license, passport, and more.

On July 30—a day after the deadline for filing petitioners—the Hudson County Clerk disqualified Mr.Hamilton from the election, citing “circulating a petition with an incorrect name” as the basis for the decision. Mr. Hamilton administratively appealed the ruling, which was denied.

Mr.Tringali filed an Order to Show Cause and during a hearing argued that the Clerk’s disqualification would have an adverse impact on his running mates because “Velazquez and Johnson are now forced to change their campaign approach in light of Hamilton’s disqualification.”

The Honorable Peter Bariso, Assignment Judge for the Hudson County Superior Court, presided over the case and reached a ruling, focusing on the effect that the name change would have on the fairness of the election.

Judge Bariso held that “There’s no evidence to conclude that Mr. Hamilton used his middle name in order to gain some sort of unfair advantage or mislead the public that he is someone else.” Judge Bariso agreed with cases cited by Mr. Tringali and entered an Order wherein Mr. Hamilton was placed on the ballot, was permitted to appear with his given name, Alexander Hamilton and he was allowed to be bracketed with his running mates, Ms. Velazquez and Ms. Johnson on the Change for Children slate of the BOE election ballot.

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