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Election Lawyers Dot I's
and Cross T's

By Daniel Wise

New York Law Journal (p. 1, col. 3)
November 28, 1995

         LAST WEEK as the Presidential petitioning period in New York was 
     set to begin, Jeffrey Buley spent hours at the printers checking for 
     misspellings or other flaws in the 31 sets of petitions for the 93 
     delegates committed to Republican presidential candidate Robert 
     Dole. Over at Clinton campaign headquarters, Henry Berger, a partner 
     at Fisher, Fisher & Berger, pored over his candidate's delegate 
     lists to make sure there were enough women, blacks, Hispanics, 
     NativeAmericans, gays, disabled persons, youths and seniors.
         Such is the fate of the top lawyers for Presidential campaigns 
     in New York as their candidates gear up for the start of a five-week 
     petition drive to qualify for the March 7 primary: they have the 
     glory of being in the thick of the fray to select their party's 
     candidates for U.S. President, but their life is one of details, 
     details and more details.
         On both the Republican and Democratic sides, there are extremely 
     complicated rules to be followed. Despite a slight relaxation of the 
     requirements in the last few years, uncorrected technical errors can 
     be costly in terms of voided signatures.
         On the Republican side, the rules are so onerous that only three 
     of the current eight candidates are attempting to qualify for the 
     ballot. In addition, unconnected to any of the three Republican 
     campaigns (columnist Patrick Buchanan and publisher Steve Forbes as  
     well as Mr. Dole, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate), a legal 
     challenge has been mounted to the petition requirements before 
     Eastern District Judge Edward R. Korman. Yesterday Judge Korman 
     eased the signature requirements necessary to qualify in the 
     Republican primary, opening the possibility that more Republican 
     candidates may now attempt to qualify for the New York primary (see 
     related article on this page.)
         The Republicans will elect 93 delegates to their national 
     convention, three from each of the state's 31 congressional 
     districts. State law imposes the same requirements for the 
     Republican Presidential delegates as are applied for candidates for 
     Intricate Rules
         To qualify for the ballot, convention delegates must obtain the 
     signatures of 5 percent of the enrolled voters in their 
     congressional districts, or 1,250 signatures, whichever is less. In 
     25 of the state's 31 congressional districts, the 1,250 figure 
     applies, and statewide a total of about 38,000 signatures are needed 
     to field a full slate of delegates.
         The Democrats require far fewer signatures, but many more 
     substantive requirements govern the makeup of the delegate slate. 
     The Democrats have a two-step process, with 85 statewide delegates 
     going to the campaign of the candidate that wins the most votes 
         The remaining 159 delegates are divided among the state's 31 
     congressional districts, based upon a complex formula, set 
     nationwide according to factors such as population and votes in 
     prior presidential elections. The winners in the congressional 
     district races are selected proportionately, based on a percentage 
     of each Democratic candidate's vote within the district.
         A Presidential campaign must get 5,000 signatures in the state 
     to qualify its candidate for the statewide vote. Delegate slates 
     must get the signatures of enrolled voters equal to .5 percent of 
     the Presidential primary vote in 1992 in their congressional 
         The Democratic party's national rules require that its statewide 
     delegation contain an equal number of men and women and set a 
     variety of goals for minority participation: 26 percent blacks, 12 
     percent Hispanics, 4 percent Asian-Americans, and .5 percent Native-
     Americans. In addition, efforts are to be made to include the 
     ``traditionally underrepresented,'' including gays, elderly, youths 
     and the economically disadvantaged.
     Prepared to Fight
         With a fight brewing on the Republican side, Mr. Buley, who is 
     of counsel to Cusick, Hacker & Murphy in Albany, said the Dole 
     campaign has assembled an army of about 100 volunteer lawyers. 
     Defensively, the lawyers will review the campaign's petitions for 
     technical defects. Offensively, he said, the lawyers will review the 
     petitions of the Buchanan and Forbes campaigns to determine ``if we 
     have a shot'' at knocking them off through a legal challenge.
         With 100 lawyers, the Dole campaign has the firepower to bring 
     challenges in all six locations where administrative and judicial 
     challenges could be brought. The rule is that if a congressional 
     district is wholly within a single county or New York City, the 
     challenge is to be brought in that county or New York City (11 
     congressional districts are completely within city lines). 
     Challenges in districts spanning county lines must be brought in 
         John Klotz, who is handling the legal work for the Buchanan 
     campaign in New York, said his team would meet the challenge if it 
     arises, but declined to say how many lawyers he had lined up to 
         Thomas Spargo, who is directing the Forbes campaign's legal 
     effort, also said the problem would be manageable, because most 
     litigation would be confined to New York City or Albany. If the Dole 
     challenges materialize, he said, the Forbes campaign would hire the 
     lawyers needed to meet the challenge.
         The following are thumbnail sketches of each campaign's top 
Included graphic: Photos of Messrs. Buley, Klotz, Spargo and Berger.

Copyright 1995, The New York Law Publishing Company.  All rights reserved.

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