The Columbia County Democrats neglected to elect new officers after the September 10th primary, in apparent violation of both State election law and its own Party by-laws.
Section 2–112 (1) of State election regs for party committees states that
every county committee shall within twenty days after its election… meet and organize by electing a chairman, a secretary, a treasurer and such other officers as they may by their rules provide.
In other words, the County committee was supposed to meet and elect new officers by September 30th. This rule is reiterated in the County Dems own internal by-laws. Moreover, within three days after officers are chosen, the State says that
all state and county committees shall file in the office of the state board of elections a certificate stating the names and post office addresses of such officers. County committees and any other committee contained therein shall file a copy of such statement with their county board of elections.
But neither of these steps were taken, which are a necessary precursor to the election of Town chairs for the party.
The State Election Law is not clear about the consequences of failing to meet these deadlines. At best they could be construed to mean that the previously-elected officers continued to serve as fill-ins until a new vote was cast; at worst, it raises a question if any actions taken after September 30th by officers with expired terms was invalid or improper.
It’s also not clear whether the Dems’ oversight was due to forgetfulness or a deliberate effort to postpone any reckoning for the current leadership. A number percentage of prominent Democratic incumbents were unseated in this cycle, such as Claverack Supervisor Robin Andrews and Copake Town Justice Brian Herman.
But at last, the previously-elected County chair, Cyndy Hall, has finally called a meeting—almost three months late—to elect new officers Wednesday at 6 pm at Ghent Town Hall on Route 66. The email announcing the meeting says that “everyone is welcome to run,” though the short notice likely means that few if any new faces will step forward. The leadership (the term is used here lightly) may have had reason to keep the blunder quiet: if a vote is called to fill vacancies, that could mean that any enrolled Democrat could throw their hat in the ring, whether they are an elected Committee member or not.