By Jon Campbell, Gannett Albany
A decision on a state lawsuit challenging a statewide ballot proposition on casino gambling is expected by "the middle of next week," Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard Platkin said in court Friday.
Platkin heard arguments from the state Board of Elections and Eric Snyder in Supreme Court in Albany County on Friday, where the board sought to toss Snyder's lawsuit which claims it violated the state Constitution and Open Meetings Law in adopting the referendum language that will be presented to voters Nov. 5.
Snyder is seeking to overturn the language, which asks whether voters approve allowing up to seven private casinos statewide while touting the potential for "job growth" and "permitting local governments to lower property taxes."
The wording equates to "advocacy language," Snyder said.
"My goal here isn't necessarily to stop the train," Snyder told Platkin. "I would love to hear the Board of Elections say, 'We're going to change this. We're going to take the advocacy language out.'"
Paul Collins, counsel for the Board of Elections, challenged Snyder's claims on a number of procedural grounds.
Specifically, Collins accused Snyder of "unreasonable delay" in filing his lawsuit, which came after military ballots were already shipped overseas and many county ballots are being printed. He also questioned whether Snyder violated the statute of limitations, which required an attack on the language to be filed within 14 days of the last day it could be certified.
"The board was required three months before the election to certify," Collins said. "That it did. Then the petitioner had 14 days to file."
Along with questioning whether state resources have been expended for "advocacy," Snyder argued the board violated the Open Meetings Law by not being open about what they were voting on when the ballot language was certified on July 29. A webcast of the meeting shows the executive directors of the board certifying the language, but the wording was never read aloud.
Snyder also questioned why the ballot proposition's wording wasn't posted on the board's website before Aug. 23.
Platkin appeared skeptical of whether the issue could work its way through the court prior to Election Day, especially with the potential for appeals to higher courts.
"There's a lot of machinery that has to be in place for an election," Platkin said. "And even if I give you a decision in the next business day, which is Tuesday, that's three weeks before the election."