HARLEM — The packed ballot of candidates running to represent Harlem in the city council was thinned by two after they were disqualified on technicalities.
Mamadou Drame, a community activist, and Troy Outlaw, a former City Council aide, were both removed from the ballot for the District 9 seat by Board of Election commissioners at a hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Commissioners said Drame, who ran on the Democratic Party line, ran afoul of an election law which prohibits candidates in special elections from running on existing party lines. Special elections are supposed to be nonpartisan.
“We as a board are constrained to follow the decision,” a commissioner said before the unanimous vote.
Drame’s campaign representatives could not be reached for comment.
Outlaw was bumped off due to filing his petitions late. The paperwork should have been filed within 14 days of Mayor Bill de Blasio calling the race on Jan. 3. Outlaw, who represented himself at the hearing, said he missed the deadline because he was unaware of the date.
The rulings bring the total number of candidates running in the Feb. 14 election to replace Inez Dickens to 11.
The seat was vacated when Dickens was elected to state Assembly.
There were also several hurdles other candidates faced at the hearing, ranging from problems with their paperwork to the number of signatures collected. The commissioners said they could not give the candidates any wiggle room.
Larry Scott Blackmon, a FreshDirect vice-president, faced a ballot issue similar to Drame.
There was a concern that Blackmon’s line “Harlem Family Party” could be confused with the existing “Working Families Party.”
Marty Connor, an election lawyer representing the candidate, argued that there were no challenges to the party line by other candidates, no pending litigation and it was not identical to the existing party.
Seven board members voted to abstain and three voted yes, allowing him to stay on the ballot.
In a statement, the campaign said it was “excited to continue to move forward in our campaigning.”
The other candidates—State Sen. Bill Perkins; Todd Stevens, a real estate broker; Charles Cooper, a businessman and former Manhattan Community Board 9 vice-chair; Caprice Alves, an educator; and Dawn Simmons, a former teacher and social worker, faced similar ballot issues.
All faced charges that a portion of their petition signatures were invalid. In each case the board ruled in favor of the candidate and allowed them to appear on the ballot.
For Simmons and Cooper, Sarah Steiner, an election lawyer tied to the campaign of Marvin Holland, a local union leader, tried to argue they had invalid signatures that put them below the 450 threshold of votes needed.
However, the number of signatures Steiner listed on paperwork differed from the number the board’s clerk found, which caused the board to throw the objection out.
In Perkins’ case, Steiner charged that Perkins cheated to get on the ballot with signatures collected illegally, among other issues.
The commissioners noted that they are prohibited from ruling on fraud claims.