September 22, 1994
Digest: A judge may not serve as an election inspector on behalf of a political party.
Rules: 22 NYCRR Sec. 100.2(a); 100.3; 100.5(c)(1); 100.5(g) & (h)
A Town Justice asks if it is permissible to continue acting as a Republican Inspector of Elections, a position the judge had filled prior to being elected a town justice. A prerequisite is the signing of a “Constitutional Oath-Republican Inspector of Elections”, swearing to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office of REPUBLICAN INSPECTOR OF ELECTIONS . . .” The inquirer states that he/she is not a member of a political club.
The Rules of the Chief Administrator are replete with admonitions and prohibitions against political activities and the appearance of engaging in political activities. Election inspectors whose title includes the name of a political party are perceived as acting on behalf of the party. Section 100.2(a) of the Rules states: “A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall conduct himself or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Although Sec. 100.5(h) allows part-time judges to accept private employment or public employment in a Federal, State or municipal department or agency, it cautions against employment that may be incompatible with judicial office and that may conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge’s duties.
A town justice may not accept appointment as an election inspector on behalf of a political party.