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Judge's resignation complicates ballot for Islip District Court

This is the application for an absentee ballot

This is the application for an absentee ballot for Suffolk County, May 26, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Ken Sawchuk

ALBANY – Voters in the Town of Islip may be a bit confused when they see their ballot that includes three open judgeships for District Court.

The incumbents for the 5th District Court are Pierce Cohalan and Jennifer Henry, both of whom are running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines.

A third sitting judge, Robert Cicale, wasn’t scheduled to run this year for re-election because his term wasn’t ending. But on April 1, Cicale resigned after being convicted on burglary charges. In his last election, Cicale was cross-endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.

Cicale’s resignation came after the petitioning process used to place candidates on the ballot and created a third open seat for district judge, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Democrats then used a process called a certificate of nomination after petition to place Alonzo Jacobs on the Democratic line for one of the three judgeships, elections officials said. Because the Democratic Party earned the top line on ballots by attracting the most votes in the last election for governor, in 2018, Jacobs’ name comes first on the ballot for the three spots.

For voters, the ballot shows the candidates' names in two columns. Democrat Jacobs is in the first column with Cohalan, who has separate lines for the Republican, Conservative and Independence endorsements. Henry is in the second column, also with separate lines for the Republican, Conservative and Independence endorsements.

The ballot may look odd to some voters because state law requires it to be as compressed as possible, so Jacobs' name is to the far left under the "District Court Judge" heading, and Democrats have two empty spots to the right.

Voters may choose up to three candidates, but can’t vote for a single candidate more than once. If a voter does, the ballot will not be invalidated, but only one vote for the candidate will count, according to the county Board of Elections.

A third column has no names. That is reserved for write-in candidates.

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