Greens Cry Foul on Ballot Access Process for Independent Candidates
The Green Party gubernatorial ticket expressed its outrage today at the ballot access process for independent candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor in New York.
On Monday, June 27, the state Board of Elections ruled as invalid the independent nominating petitions of the Green Party and all four other gubernatorial candidates who are not already on the ballot as the Democratic and Republican candidates on the grounds of insufficient signatures. The other petitions were for the Libertarian, Unite, Freedom, and New Visions candidates.
Under New York Election Law §6-154(1), the Board of Elections is required to view a ballot access petition as “presumptively valid if it is in proper form and appears to bear the requisite number of signatures.” Contrary to past practice, the Board of Elections did not hold hearings with the candidates and their objectors present to review the objections filed against their petitions. Instead, the Board of Elections staff did their own review and recommended invalidating all the petitions without an opportunity for the candidates to defend their petitions.
If these rulings stand, only the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties will be on the November general election ballot. 2022 would be the first year since 1946, and the only other time since the state began issuing official ballots in 1890, when only the candidates of the Democratic and Republican candidates have been on the ballot.
“The Democrats’ goal in their ballot access exclusion law of 2020 was to eliminate competition from alternative parties. If we don’t win our pending case in court against this law, the Democrats will have achieved their party suppression goals for this year’s election,” said Howie Hawkins, the Green nominee for Governor.
The Election Law enables ballot qualified parties to nominate their gubernatorial tickets by convention without requiring a petition. The Greens had expected to nominate by convention in 2022 because in 2018 its gubernatorial ticket received more than double the required votes to win a ballot line for four years under the Election Law at the time. However, the Democrats pushed through changes to ballot access laws as part of the state budget package in April 2020 that led to the Greens losing ballot status.
“Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican Lee Zeldin didn’t have to collect a single signature to be on the ballot,” noted Gloria Mattera, the Green candidate for Lt. Governor. “The Democrats changed the Election Law so the Greens had to get three times as many signatures as before just to get back on the ballot. None of the independent candidates were able to meet that signature threshold. That demonstrates that the new ballot access law is exclusionary. It must be changed if New York is to be an inclusive multi-party democracy.”
“New York is now effectively a one-party dictatorship. The Democrats hold the governorship and super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature. The new ballot access restrictions combined with single-member-district winner-take-all elections means one-party rule when Republican enrollment is less than half of Democratic enrollment. Whether we are on the ballot or not, the Green Party will continue to fight for a fair ballot access law as well as ranked choice voting, including proportional ranked choice voting for the state legislature, in order give all parties their fair and proportional share of power in state government,” Hawkins said.
The Green Party still hopes to be placed on the ballot by winning litigation they filed jointly with the Libertarian Party in Libertarian Party of New York et al. v. New York State Board of Elections. The case is now on appeal in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals after the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against the Libertarians and Greens in May 2021. They filed a motion on June 20 asking the Second Circuit Court to place their parties on the ballot or at least expedite the case so it is decided in time for the general election in November.