Douglas A. Kellner Appointed as Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections



Governor George Pataki has appointed Douglas A. Kellner as one of the four commissioners of the New York State Board of Elections upon the recommendation of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Minority Leader David Patterson.  Commissioner Kellner has also been designated as the Co-Chair of the State Board.


Doug Kellner served as the Democratic commissioner from Manhattan on the New York City Board of Elections since 1993. He has resigned from that position in order to assume the state-wide post.


Commissioner Kellner is a partner in the law firm of Kellner Herlihy Getty & Friedman.  He specializes in the area of real estate litigation and represents a large number of tenants groups, cooperatives, and some non-profit institutional landlords. Mr. Kellner received considerable attention in 1986 when he revived New York’s Bawdy House Law, first enacted in 1840, and used it as a device where neighbors could seek to evict drug dealers.. His use of this overlooked law for that purpose was quickly copied by district attorneys and housing authorities throughout the country.


Commissioner Kellner led the opposition to the implementation of the 1992 contract to replace New York City’s lever voting machines with electronic voting machines. He was one of the first proponents of a voter verifiable paper audit trail for electronic voting machines.  At the same time he was instrumental in promoting new technology for scanning absentee and provisional ballots. He drafted model procedures to open the process of canvassing ballots to public scrutiny and convinced his fellow commissioners to adopt rules that provided meaningful due process in ballot challenges.


Before he became commissioner, Mr. Kellner was the election lawyer for the Democratic Party in Manhattan. Perhaps because of his experience as an election lawyer, he became an outspoken advocate for reform of New York’s laws restricting ballot access.


The New York County Democratic Committee has recommended that the New York City Council appoint Gregory Soumas, a Democratic district leader from the West Side, and a partner at the law firm of Borah Goldstein Altschuler Schwartz & Nahins to fill Mr. Kellner’s position as commissioner on the New York City Board of Elections.  The City Council is expected to vote on the appointment on December 21.