Seven Independent Political Parties Submit Petitions To Get Gubernatorial Candidates on Ballot in NY
Dan Murphy, Yonkers Times, June 11, 2022
Unite NY and Green Party Call on Democratic Party Insiders to Stop Trying to Knock them Off Ballot and Stifle Voter Choice
In a sign of great political fortitude, seven minor political parties in New York State submitted petitons to the NYS Board of Elections to place candidates for Governor on their party line.
Congratulations to the seven parties for collecting the 45,000 signatures now required to get a candidate for statewide office on the ballot. UniteNY, the Libertarian Party, Green Party, People’s Party, Freedom Party, Independence Party, and New Vision party met the May 31 deadline.
Unfortunately, according to UniteNY, “In a blatant attempt to stifle voices of independent voters, Democratic party insiders are seeking to keep seven different independent organizations from attaining ballot lines in the race for Governor of New York in the November 2022 general election.”
UniteNY collected signatures for Harry Wilson to run on their party line for Governor in November. “Showing a brazen, Cuomo/Trumpian effort to maintain power and stifle competition, two Democratic party insiders have challenged the independent nominating petitions of every organization seeking a ballot line for their Gubernatorial candidate this year, Underlings of Democratic State Chair Jay Jacobs and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan filed challenges to each petition filed for candidates running in competition with NY Governor Kathy Hochul. The intended outcome of these challenges would result in depriving voters from being able to choose anyone beyond the winners of the two major party primaries.
“This especially dubious action comes on the heels of former Governor Cuomo’s assault on third parties seeking to build their following. In 2020, as part of an emergency Covid relief bill, the disgraced Governor (with approval of his then-Lt. Governor Hochul) successfully forwarded legislation tripling the signature and vote requirements needed to qualify and maintain a statewide ballot line – legislation which resulted in five of New York’s seven minor parties subsequently losing their statewide ballot line status.
Currently, only four political parties in New York State are guaranteed a ballot line in November; the Democratic, Republican, Conservaitve and Working Families Parties. The seven other parties that filed petitions are trying to force their was on the ballot, or back on the ballot after years of appearing as a choice for New York Voters.
“After the Democratic controlled legislature drew unfair, heavily gerrymandered new district lines that were ruled unconstitutional by New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, a special master drew new, more fair district lines. These lines were still being created while the independent petitioning process was already underway, making compliance nearly impossible. This failure has thrown the election cycle into pure chaos and placed additional hurdles on groups who are trying to give voters another voice at the ballot box,” writes UniteNY.
“Still not satisfied with their efforts to allow a free and open election with competing candidates on other lines, Democratic party insiders are now attempting to bully these independent petitioners off the ballot, challenging the nominating petitions circulated on behalf of gubernatorial candidates seeking to run on the Independence, Green, Unite, Libertarian, Freedom, New Visions, and Parent lines.
Unite NY Founder Martin Babinec said, “New York’s 3.5 million unaffiliated voters (not enrolled in a party) are the second largest and fastest growing block of voters in the state. Not surprisingly, more people signed independent nominating petitions for Governor than at any time in New York’s history. As reflected in our statewide polling across all categories of voters to construct the Voter Empowerment Index, a strong majority are clamoring for more choice than simply picking “the lesser of two evils” by seeing only winners of the two major parties under our closed primary system. The Democratic Party’s blanket challenge across the entire field of minor party candidates sends a clear and unequivocal message: We’re in charge and will do all in our power to thwart others from competing with us.”Learn more at www.UniteNY.org.
The Green Party of NY has appeared on the ballot in New York State for decades. Their candidate for Governor, Howie Hawkins, has run for NY Governor before and for President on the Green Party line. “The Democratic leadership is fundamentally anti-democratic. Instead of letting the voters choose, they passed the most restrictive ballot access law in the country to eliminate their competition. They passed this exclusionary ballot access law with super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature. Party suppression is what authoritarian governments do. It is what the Democrats now do in the one-party state of New York. Shame on the Democrats,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins and his Lt. Gov. running mate Gloria Mattera, pointed the finger of blame at Jay Jacobs, the former Chair of the NYS Democratic Party under Andrew Cuomo. “We are not surprised that the objections were filed by Nassau County minions of the chair of the Nassau County and State Democratic committees, Jay Jacobs. Jacobs has been on a crusade to wipe the Green Party off of New York ballots. I don’t want to hear anymore hypocritical crocodile tears from anti-democratic Democrats like Jacobs about Republican attacks on voting rights. Party suppression is a form of voter suppression. It’s what authoritarian governments do. It is what Jacobs and the Democratic Party are doing,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins’ running mate for Lt. Governor, Gloria Mattera, said, “Hochul, Jacobs, and the Democratic establishment are afraid of competition from their left. They know that the Greens’ progressive program of state-level Medicare-for-All, a real Green New Deal, taxing the rich, and affordable housing is more popular than their corporate program of privatized health care, fossil-fueled cryptomining, a billion for the Buffalo Bills billionaire, and rent hikes and evictions for landlords. They want to keep the Green Party off the ballot so that voters don’t have a progressive alternative to vote for.”
As a member of the 2019 Public Financing Commission, Jacobs pushed through highly restrictive ballot access requirements along with the public campaign financing proposal the commission was charged with developing. The New York Times called it “The Democrats’ Secret Plan To Kill Third Parties in New York.”
That law was overturned in court for being beyond the commission’s power to enact. But with Jacobs cheerleading, then Gov. Cuomo pushed the ballot access restrictions law through as part of the April 2020 budget package while the legislature was only meeting virtually during the Covid lockdown.
The new restrictions doubled the frequency that parties must qualify for the ballot from gubernatorial races every four years to both presidential and gubernatorial races every two years. The votes needed to secure a ballot line were increased from 50,000 to 130,000 or 2%, whichever is greater. In the 2020 presidential race, 2% came to over 173,000 votes, or three and a half times more than the old requirement. As a result, every party that did not cross-endorse Biden or Trump lost their ballot line.
The petition signature requirement to get back on to the ballot was tripled from 15,000 to 45,000. That requirement is the most difficult in the nation because there are only 42 days to collect the signatures. Most states have no time limit on collecting ballot access petition signatures. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News has noted that “in 2020, not one independent candidate, and not one minor party, successfully completed any petition anywhere in the nation that exceeded 5,000 signatures, for any office.”
Adding to the burden of petitioning this year was the outbreak of two new Covid Omicron variants as petitioning started in late April and the Centers for Disease Control recommended indoor masking in most upstate counties. New York State made no reductions in signature requirements to compensate for the Covid pandemic as it did in 2020. Despite petitioning with a face mask and hand sanitizer in his back pocket, “Many people didn’t want to come near me and my petition clipboard because of the Covid outbreak,” said Hawkins of Syracuse, which was the April epicenter of the new Omicron wave.
Jacobs and Cuomo both said after the 2020 election that eliminating all but the Conservative and Working Families parties, the fusion parties that normally cross-endorse major party candidates, was their objective all along. Jacobs said he wanted to eliminate “transactional parties.” The Greens contend that the transactional parties are the fusion parties that cut deals with the major parties in return for their ballot lines. The Green Party runs its own candidates independently of both major parties.
“Not being on the ballot hurts us, but it will not stop us,” Hawkins said. “We will be fighting to change these exclusionary ballot access laws and for inclusionary election reforms, including ranked choice voting for statewide offices and proportional representation in the state legislature. We want to make New York an inclusive multi-party democracy.”
The Libertarian Party of NY, another long standing name on the ballot for generations, collected signatures to get Larry Sharpe on the ballot for Governor.
The Parent Party of New York New York has endorsed the republican slate including Lee Zeldin as its candidate for Governor.
We were unable to find information on the Independence Party, Freedom Party, and New Visions party, nor were we able to find information online about their canddiaates for governor, but hope to report back to you.
Editor’s Note: The SAM Party of NY, (Serve America Movement), also lost its ballot status as a result of the Cuomo -Jacobs changes to ballot requirements in 2020. In 2018, SAM-NY ran a fusion ticket of democrat Stephanie Miner for Governor and republican Michael Volpe for Lt. Gov. and received more than 50,000 votes, the then threshhold to qualify for automatic ballot status for four years.